Conducting an Investigation

Once you become aware of a problem with an employee or receive a complaint from another worker or a customer, you need to investigate the situation before you take any action. You need to be sure that you have all the facts and that you understand what went on, as much as possible. In order to be most effective, you need to know

A word about anonymous complaints. There is a natural tendency to ignore anonymous complaints. This may not be a good idea. Prior to going to an external third party, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or an attorney, some employees may complain anonymously. You must put aside the fact that a complaint is unsigned or the complainer is unknown and decide if the complaint deserves a thorough investigation or if you should ignore it. If it seems likely that the complaint came from an employee, greater weight should be given to the complaint.

If you decide to investigate the complaint, do so as thoroughly as possible given the few details that you have. In the event that the investigation uncovers policy violations or errors, treat those the same as an employee complaint - rectify any errors that you can.

When you start looking into a problem or incident, begin by making sure that you are operating without bias against one or more people involved in the incident. Investigations are useful only if they are accurate and impartial.