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#MeToo movement resulting in some managers feeling nervous and uncomfortable

Wendy MacIntyre is a Stratford-based human resources consultant and owner of resolveHR, who says #MeToo movement resulting in some managers feeling nervous and uncomfortable. TERRENCE MCEACHERN
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Wendy MacIntyre is a Stratford-based human resources consultant and owner of resolveHR, who says #MeToo movement resulting in some managers feeling nervous and uncomfortable. TERRENCE MCEACHERN . - The Guardian

With a changing workplace, skilled-labour shortage and issues such as the #MeToo movement, these are certainly interesting times to be a human resources professional.

For Wendy MacIntyre, a Stratford-based human resources consultant and owner of resolveHR, seeing businesses and not-for-profit organizations run more smoothly is something that makes her tick. 

“I love what I do,” says MacIntyre, with a smile. 

In the role of a human resources consultant, she fills the void for businesses and organizations that don’t have their own human resources departments or staff. In particular, she helps businesses in areas such as recruiting, risk management, coaching, retaining staff and workforce planning. 

Originally from Canoe Cove, MacIntyre is also involved with Lunch and Learn workshop sessions with new entrepreneurs and businesses at the Startup Zone in Charlottetown. Some of the topics she covers include bullying and harassment in the workplace, performance management and how to engage employees.

MacIntyre sat down with The Guardian this week for a Q and A session. 

Q: What are some of the keys to building healthy employee-employer relations in the workplace, especially for businesses just starting out?

A: One company I work with, they have engaged their workforce like nobody else I’ve seen. They just have a way of talking about things and getting feedback. They even do annual group strategic planning for the organization. They’re still in start-up mode. They’re only a few years old, but they really want to be inclusive. And when they ask for feedback, they follow through on it. Sometimes we’ll do a survey of employees or we’ll ask questions, and nothing gets fed back to the people who have provided suggestions. That will just shut down people completely or they get jaded because, well, they ask and nothing ever happens so why would I tell anybody. So, it’s really to figure out how to ask and how to respond properly is a really good way to get people onboard with what you’re doing. That’s where we’re at today. It’s not just put your head down and do the work and put this widget on that one, it’s really more about collaborating, which can scare people who have been managing for 20 or 30 years. Now, they’re expected to collaborate. It’s a different culture and style. But, that’s why you’re in a leadership role – to be agile and try out new things.

Q:  What are some of the qualities of a bad manager?

A: One thing I see is people don’t get properly managed for their performance, whether it’s in a for-profit business or a not-for-profit organization. People aren’t comfortable managing someone else’s performance and saying: ‘You’re doing this well. You’re not doing this well. What are we going to do about that?’— and then not following up on that. With performance management, it’s not necessarily discipline. It’s definitely not ignoring it. But it’s to be timely – address an issue when it happens, correct it with the person so that they understand what they’re responsible for and they can fix it. And then to follow up on it and not let it slip back. Because it takes a long time to make a new habit. 

Q: How are local businesses reacting to the #MeToo movement?

A: There’s a lot of different ways that employees or customers or whatever it is, when you communicate, you use your hands quite often and maybe you put a hand on somebody’s back or maybe when you greet them, you give them a hug. And men are just very much more aware and concerned about – ‘how do I know when that’s ok to do? What if they hug me?’ So, when you’re looking at someone in a position of power, say a manager, then it’s really uncomfortable right now. And, what I see that will happen to the detriment of us all is mentoring relationships that will be jeopardized or just not happen.  I do find that women are extremely supportive of other women. There was a great community that helped me when I started out. But, I learned a lot from some really great men. But now, would they be willing to open themselves up to having one-on-one meetings with a young female? Or, would they be inclined to suggest (they) should talk to (someone), who is a female. So, I think there is a great deal that could be lost if we don’t get a better handle on what’s happening. And, it’s always been happening. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the entertainment business or in corporate business, it happens. I think we’re hearing more about it because people are now talking about it, not that there’s more happening now. It’s just that people are talking about it because I think there is a lot less happening than there used to be. Even to know that sexual harassment policies are required through legislation has really been helpful. I’ve been working with clients coming to awareness with that over the years. But, now it’s just that extra nervousness. 

Q: What changes might we see in the workplace as a result of the #MeToo movement? For example, could we see less women getting promoted or Christmas parties coming to an end?

A: I don’t anticipate there being less women promoted, at least around here. Clients and employers want to do well by their employees. They want to engage their employees and make them feel comfortable. So, I don’t think that’s going to affect women becoming more and more into leadership positions. But I do see so many issues now coming to the forefront when it comes to staff parties. There’s been such a change over the years, too, just thinking about alcohol in workplace settings. Even though something might be outside of work time, it’s still considered the shop floor if it is going to impact the workplace in any way. So, staff parties, I think those will be going away, eventually. And, for an employer, I think it’s kind of smart. It takes down the fun factor. But you have to be smart and you have to be aware that you have liabilities. So, I do see that trend happening.   

Q: When we talk about women and men in the workplace or in power struggles, you say one thing you dislike is the swing that it’s ok for women to male bash. Can you explain your concern?  

A:  So, for women to say things about men that men would never be able to say about women. I think the pendulum has swung and it’s got to come back to the centre somewhere. That’s one thing that I find very disrespectful and flies in the face of feminism. There’s different types of feminism, but I think the one where we look at equity. If we’re judging somebody, what are the standards we are looking at, not just how they’re squaring up against that standard? But what is the standard?

terrence.mceachern@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/PEIGuardian

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