How many version of the truth are there?

One of the joys that I get from working with entrepreneurs and small businesses is that we get to be a part of their organisation. Often their lean organisational structures mean that we get involved in second or final stages of grievance or disciplinary hearings as part of the process.

One client of mine contacted me when they received a report from a whistle-blower (Def: a person who informs on a person or organisation regarded as engaging in an unlawful or immoral activity – Oxford Dictionary). The nature of the accusation was very serious as it related to safeguarding (Def: To safeguard something or someone means to protect them from being harmed, lost, or badly treated – Collins Dictionary) and as the founder and director would need to hear the case and some of their direct reports were potential witnesses, we agreed to come in and investigate the case.

We had to speak with 12 different parties who were a combination of colleagues, managers and client of the accused individual, as well as keep the individual (who was suspended on full pay) updated with our progress.

We received differing versions of the same incident and other concerns were brought to light. To get to the bottom of things some witnesses were spoken with on three separate occasions.

In the final report we recommended that the individual involved be removed from the location that they were working in as their professionalism with those particular types of clients was in question and the individual admitted to not enjoying working with that client group. Subsequently the individual resigned and started a new vocation.

This was a complicated case, I wanted share some learnings that will help you when you have a case to investigate:

  • Act as soon as possible – memory fade and the ability of individuals to conspire increases over time.
  • Understand the policy you are working with – make sure you are clear on the process you are following and your obligations as a manager.
  • No such things as too much communication – Keep updating those involved.
  • Seek help – If you aren’t sure ask for help.
  • Remain objective - do not make assumptions based on your previous experiences.
  • Gather all the evidence – don’t disregard the small details.
  • Be detailed in your recommendations – see it as preparation for an appeal of the outcome.

Bear these tips in mind and your investigations will be successful. For details of how we can support you, click here.