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Boss Must Control Harassment

Q.3. I have a small business with only 15 employees, but I notice sometimes some of them get too "chummy" and both the men and the women will put arms around each other, or make remarks that probably could seem like harassment to an outsider. What can I do to keep this under control but not offend my staff? They don't seem to have any complaints, but the recent Herman Cain accusations made me nervous about them.

Ans. You're wise to be aware of potential problems and to take preventive steps before you have them. Joseph Grenny, www.businessweek.com columnist and author of Crucial Confrontations, found in his research that harassment could be stopped in its tracks if people learn to confront it quickly. Hold a meeting and teach Grenny's "three strikes, and you're out" approach. On first offense speak up and ask the person to stop. If it happens again, say you will explore other options to correct the situation. Strike three is reporting the behavior to Human Resources, or to you-the boss.

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