Management Training Tips from Florida HR consulting firm, RPC, from one of their human resource seminars : The Basics of Conducting Workplace Investigations
The foundation for minimizing workplace complaints, investigations, and litigation is in identifying and correcting dysfunctional organizational behaviors. In most organizations, the greatest factors of dysfunction can be attributed to poor leadership. Everyday, when supervisors are managing employees, there are numerous opportunities for the leadership “light bulb” to come on. This “light bulb” must come on when supervisors observe inappropriate behaviors, safety issues, workplace squabbles, etc. Yet, the vast majority of supervisors fail to have the “light bulb” come on at all and choose avoidance rather than interaction.
The majority of the time this avoidance behavior takes place is because of the following:
- Supervisors haven’t been properly trained in how to spot inappropriate behavior in violation of a policy, procedure or law
- They consider themselves “too busy” to deal with the behavior
- They are intimidated by some of their employees and are insecure regarding how to handle the poor behavior if they do confront it
- They know their leadership performance is measured on criteria other than “putting out fires” and solving what they consider petty employee issues
- They feel there is no personal gain in resolving employee issues and simply choose to focus on what they call “important” activities such as checking email, attending meetings, etc.
- They have developed a false belief that human resources staff members are responsible for dealing with employee relation issues and that it’s not their job
- The supervisor’s leader avoids dealing with issues, so therefore the junior-level supervisor follows the same poor example thinking, “why should I deal with it if my boss doesn’t even care?”
To achieve a positive culture in which employees feel comfortable resolving issues at the work site level, the leaders must first be trained in how to spot behaviors that violate policies, procedures, and employment laws. In other words, they have to be trained so their “light bulb” comes on. After receiving the training on how to spot workplace problems, they then need to learn how to react effectively to the various situations in order to resolve them.
A place to start is in reviewing and analyzing past complaints, identifying where the allegations originated, costs associated with the investigations, identifying outcomes, etc. The reason this is necessary is, quite simply, facts don’t lie. Once supervisors learn how many issues the organization has dealt with by complaint type, by department, etc. they begin to realize they’re not doing an essential function of their job: managing performance. Also, they then recognize the downstream effects on the organization from their avoidance behavior. As listed above, supervisors generally have a negative perception about handling employee issues and try to avoid them at all costs. Yet, human resource professionals and labor attorneys view avoidance as one of the single biggest contributing factors that lead to litigation.
By presenting data regarding previous complaints, problems, investigations, etc. the leaders learn the “why” behind the need for more in-depth training. Once the data is discussed, the next step is in implementing a good leadership development program that will coach them on how to spot workplace problems and resolve them before they turn into internal investigations.
Several components of the training program should be:
- Overview of company policies, procedures, federal, state, and local laws
- Explanation of why current policies and procedures are in place
- Examples of inappropriate conduct, violations of policies
- Group discussion regarding how conduct should be dealt with and why
- Overview of the organization’s progressive discipline policy
- Explanation of measurement and reward processes for their behavior in more effectively managing the workforce
–Natalie Ivey, President & CEO
Results Performance Consulting, Inc. – RPC
Natalie Ivey is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), and has more than twenty years of leadership and HR experience with Fortune 500 organizations. Her firm provides a wide array of human resources seminars in Florida and throughout the U.S. and also provides HR consulting and employee training, especially in dealing with problem employees.