When does Performance Management Become Harassment?

As a workplace investigator I am often asked to look into complaints of alleged harassment that stem from performance management issues. Employees that do not recognize their performance deficiencies or resent managerial intervention; can sometimes perceive what are actually reasonable and fair actions, as harassment. On the flip-side, if not handled in a fair and

Procedural Fairness in Investigations

Having to take part in a workplace investigation is stressful.  Naturally, the most stress is experienced by Complainants and Respondents.  And, there is also stress for many witnesses (bystanders) because they often do not want to be involved. In some cases, they may feel they are being disloyal to a friend – or they may

Speaking out about Harassment

As sad as it has been to hear all the recent talk about sexual harassment in Hollywood; it is in one way, a relief.  Why would I call it a relief?  Because I believe the time has come wherein not only are we beginning to speak out

Who needs workplace investigations training?

It is no secret that legislation has changed the need to conduct investigations when complaints of bullying and harassment or serious misconduct arise.

It’s also no secret that many cases find their way into arousing media attention because of inappropriate or incomplete action being taken that have resulted in litigation and oftentimes, have not ended well for an employer.  While there is not always a legal requirement to investigate allegations of misconduct, it is certainly in an employer’s best interest to do so.  Especially if the allegations are serious enough that terminations or serious discipline are being considered for the accused.

Pay Now – or – Pay Later

I was talking the other day with a colleague of mine and along with trying to figure out how we could change the world and solve its problems – we were wondering why it is that human nature is such that proactive measures were pushed aside in favour of reacting when things occurred and investigations are required to find out why things went sideways.

The discussion arose primarily around the cost involved in conducting investigations properly versus the grief that can result when clients want us, as investigators, to move more quickly through the process or cut down on collecting evidence. 

Is it Conflict? Or Bullying?

Conflict is not bullying – but having said that – conflict left to fester can become bullying.

Understand what each of them are may help in determining what actions to take in the workplace.  Most of us know that while conflict can sometimes provide opportunities for new thoughts and different ideas; it’s not always comfortable. How it’s managed really is quite dependent on the workplace itself.

Increased need for Investigation Skills

It could be media attention and an increased knowledge of human rights or it could be changes in beliefs about the right to work in a respectful workplace that has made the difference – I don’t know – but what I do know is that employee complaints are increasing and the need for workplace investigations are becoming more common.

Employers will have to learn how to manage investigations better than they have in the past. As a previous human resources practitioner, I dealt with a number of workplace investigations internally for my respective employers. As an external workplace investigator, I have come to realize that what I thought was good investigating would not stand up to the scrutiny of the courts today. I am not saying internal people can’t investigate – what I am saying is that there should be adequate training for those who are tasked with the duty to investigate.

Do you need investigations training?

There is no doubt that people are speaking up more frequently about harassment in the workplace and beyond (discriminatory, sexual and personal).  Not too many days go by that we don’t see something in the media drawing our attention to harassment.

Most recently, we’ve heard of Shauna Hunt, the City News reporter who was confronted with sexual slurs at a recent Toronto soccer game.

And of course, Jian Ghomeshi is someone who has become a household name because of his inappropriate behaviours and he brought negative attention to CBC management

Investigations Interviewing

Interviewing is the simple act of asking questions of someone to gain information. It is a critical part of almost any investigation. At its most basic level it can be done by anyone. But interviewing is a skill and often terrible interviewers will believe they are good at what they do.

What complicates interviewing is that many of the people being interviewed either do not realize they have important information or do not wish to give you the information they do have. What further complicates the interview process is that our personalities and actions will directly affect the information obtained in every interview.

Dealing with the Fallout of an Investigation

stress at workNot too long ago, there was a question posed on Linked In about the ‘aftermath’ of an investigation.

The question is an excellent one and is something that should be considered when an investigation occurs in a workplace. Regardless of whether it’s done internally or externally, people are impacted by it.

Sometimes, you have people that have registered a complaint in good faith but it just doesn’t reach the bar of the violation they have complained about. The complainant believes he or she has been wronged because in his or her mind; the complaint is real and an incorrect conclusion was met.