I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about an issue he’s having where he works. The main issue is that there’s a supervisor that’s basically harassing him and he doesn’t like it. The supervisor isn’t someone he reports to; that’s a major issue.

When he reported it to his manager the guy basically said not to take it personal and that it meant nothing. My friend was outraged, though he didn’t show it. I fully understood what he was going through because I’ve been there myself. Other people always think you’re just being sensitive when it doesn’t concern them.

Here’s the problem; actually, problems. One, if you don’t show that you support the people who report to you, no matter what it is, you lose their respect and dedication and you’ll never get the best performance out of them. Why should they care about making you or the company look better if you show you don’t care about them?

Two, if anyone ever reports to you, in a leadership position, that they feel like they’re being harassed, you have to do something, log the event, report it to HR, something. Harassment is against the law and you could find yourself being included in a lawsuit and even a potential EEOC complaint; this is serious stuff.

Here’s the thing I always say here and in other places. Once you assume a position of authority, no matter what it is or where you are, it’s time to step up the plate and realize it’s not all about you anymore. You have responsibilities to people who report to you, as well as the company you work for. It’s up to you to stand up for your employees and protect them from harassment, even if it’s from you.

By the way, I heard back from my friend on the issue. It seems his supervisor must have gotten the message “from above” and is now starting a real inquiry into the matter. Having to be told you have to do the right thing… embarrassing.

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