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Internal investigations are fact-finding initiatives carried out to uncover the truth about alleged misconduct. And this must be done without compromising the relationship with employees or unnecessarily damaging anyone's reputation. All of which require planning, consistent execution, analytical skill, and an understanding of the legalities involved.
Employers are legally mandated to investigate harassment, discrimination, retaliation, safety, and certain other types of complaints. And good investigators first create a plan that includes:
- What is the objective?
- Who will be interviewed?
- What will be investigated?
- What evidence needs to be collected?
Workplace investigations are crucial when it comes to establishing a safe and welcoming work environment. However, these investigations are often complex and can involve navigating sensitive topics and disputes.
A poorly conducted internal investigation can cost a company financially and damage its reputation, not to mention the reputation of the person tasked with overseeing such a probe. Some of the common mistakes made include:
- Failing to plan
- Delaying an investigation
- Not remaining objective
- Using aggressive interviewing tactics
- Not conducting a thorough investigation
- Failing to reach a conclusion with a written report
Conducting workplace investigations is one of the most challenging duties that HR professionals and other managers have to face due to today’s workforce demographics, new employment laws, employees being more aware of their rights – a quagmire of potential landmines - and many managers not trained to do so.
Employers must demonstrate fairness when conducting workplace investigations. and investigations should be thorough and well-documented before an employer takes any action. Additionally, effective workplace investigations need to be guided by the following principles:
- Neutrality-HR and other personnel involved in an investigation must be detached from an incident, remain objective, have no personal stake in the outcome, and give all employees involved the opportunity to provide their version of the incidents
- Thoroughness-To ensure that the proper decision is made investigators must be thorough in uncovering all the necessary information while asking detailed questions during interviews
- Timeliness-Once an investigation is triggered, investigators must act promptly to avoid further acts of wrongdoing with any disciplinary action administered in a timely manner to avoid legal issues.
Why you should Attend
An internal investigation is a formal inquiry to determine whether workplace policies or regulatory practices have been violated. Investigations can follow:
- A complaint
- Suspicion of misconduct
- Harassment accusations
- Or many other reasons covered by federal, state, and/or local employment laws.
The goal of any internal investigation is to obtain a straightforward view of the facts:
- What happened
- When it happened
- Who was responsible
- Who may have been harmed
- What actions may be necessary to prevent the alleged wrongdoing from reoccurring
Internal investigations assist organizations in gathering information, fashioning defenses, and crafting remedies. Specifically, internal investigations are useful for organizations to identify where there is a need for remediation.
The final investigative report should include:
- The incident investigated, with the dates
- The individuals involved
- Key factual findings
- Applicable employer policies
- Interviewees’ statements
- Issues that couldn't be resolved
- Employer’s follow-up action
It’s critical to investigate an allegation quickly. Stretching an investigation out over a lengthy period tells employees the alleged misconduct isn’t important. And as time goes by, it becomes more difficult to collect evidence and get witnesses to talk, details are forgotten and documents disappear.
And if the organization terminates or disciplines an employee and that person files a lawsuit or complaint the investigation report will be critical in protecting the company in court. While every complaint is unique, having a well-defined, consistent process in place can ward off future lawsuits.
Areas Covered in the Session
- Recognizing the Situations Where an Internal Investigation May be Warranted
- Our Role When Conducting Investigations
- Information to Obtain to Determine the Best Approach to the Investigation
- Determining Who Should be Interviewed
- Utilizing an Introductory Interview Guide
- Following a Proven Interview Methodology
- Utilizing an Investigatory Interview Questionnaire
- Closing the Interviews
- Preparing an Investigatory Findings Report
Who Will Benefit
- HR Managers & any other line manager or leader
Pete Tosh is Founder of The Focus Group, a management consulting and training firm that assists organizations in sustaining profitable growth through four core disciplines:
Implementing Strategic HR Initiatives: Executive Search, Conducting HR Department Audits, Enhancing Recruiting, Interviewing & Selection Processes, Installing Performance Management Programs, Conducting Training Needs Assessments, Installing HR Metrics, etc.
Maximizing Leadership Effectiveness: Facilitating Team Building Initiatives, Designing and Facilitating 360 Performance Assessments, Executive Coaching, Measuring and Enhancing Employee Engagement and Performance, etc.
Strategic Planning: Facilitating Strategic Planning Events, Establishing Succession Plans, Installing Business Performance Metrics, etc.
Enhancing Customer Loyalty: Conducting Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Facilitating Customer Advisory Councils, Developing Standards of Performance and Scripts for Key Customer Touch Points, etc.
The Focus Group has provided these consulting and training services to manufacturing and service organizations across the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East. Pete has worked closely with the leadership teams of organizations such as Exxon, Brinks, EMC, State Farm, Marriott, N.C.I. YKK and Freddie Mac to :
• Align corporate organizational structures with their strategic initiatives - while insuring value creation for their customer bases.
• Ascertain customers’ primary needs and perceptions of organizations’ performance relative to that of their competitors.
• Develop and implement customer loyalty enhancement processes - based on specific customer feedback - that delivered sustainable advantages in the marketplace.
• Implement performance management programs, executive coaching, compensation systems and other HR processes to strategically direct and reward desired employee behavior.
Prior to founding his own firm 25 years ago, Pete had 15 years of experience -at the plant, divisional and corporate levels - in Human Resource and Quality functions. Pete held leadership positions - to include the V.P. of Human Resources and Quality - with Allied Signal, Imperial Chemical Industries, Reynolds Metals, Charter Medical and Access Integrated Networks.
Pete also frequently develops and facilitates a variety of leadership development programs including: Strategic Planning, Moving from an Operational Manager to a Strategic Leader, Strategic HR Management, The Fundamentals of Human Resource Management, Recruiting, Interviewing & Selection, Employment Law and Utilizing HR Metrics. Employees from over 3,000 organizations have benefited from Pete’s experience and perspective. Pete is co-author of Leading Your Organization to the Next Level: the Core Disciplines of Sustained Profitable Growth.
Pete holds a B.A. degree in Psychology from Emory and Henry College and Masters degrees in both Business Administration and Industrial Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University.