Establish facts and prepare a decision. The nature and extent of an investigation will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and whether the facts are disputed or clear, and the seriousness of the matter. An investigation can simply be the gathering of the data and the previous informal management processes undertaken within the set procedures to address concerns or support them. Whatever the case, all explorations of the facts should be undertaken promptly and in a sensitive, confidential manner.
Establish Facts And Prepare A Decision
One mechanism that may be relevant in some cases to support the exploration of the situation is the use of a case management meeting. They can be an effective means of supporting a coordinated approach to discuss and make decisions about a range of issues affecting an employee with issues, including the identification of potential ways forward/action plans. Such an approach may involve several relevant parties.
The key to any successful investigation is knowing the facts surrounding the alleged wrongdoing or incident before the start of an investigation. Once an investigation has started, an investigator does not get a second chance to start over. Investigative techniques and methods can be adjusted; however, having a clear understanding of the circumstances preceding the wrongdoing or incident is not only essential but will serve as a guide throughout the investigative process.
A pre-investigation is a fact-gathering investigative tool that will help the investigator determine the best method for conducting the investigation. Pre-investigations are conducted with an open mind and without any preconceived notions. The pre-investigations will look beyond the alleged misconduct or incident to uncover crucial information such as: is this the first time the alleged misconduct has occurred? Who could have been involved, or who could have been a witness? Is there suggestive evidence as to why the incident took place? Does hard evidence exist that can assist in the investigation?
The pre-investigation can be implemented for all types of offenses, including criminal mischief, sexual harassment, product theft, time theft, intellectual property theft, and drugs in the workplace, to name just a few. The pre-investigation will provide the investigator with due diligence as to which investigative technique should be used. This may include carrying out interviews, surveillance, covert cameras, forensics, undercover agent, GPS tracking, or a combination of any of the above (to also include techniques not mentioned).
Lastly, the pre-investigation will determine if more than one investigator is needed to help with the investigation. On large-scale investigations, time is the enemy so devoting enough investigators to complete the project in a reasonable time frame is important before facts disappear and memories start to fade.
Preparing The Decision
The decision to investigate should be taken carefully regardless of the current business environment and pressures. Consideration should be given to crucial factors, such as legal and regulatory requirements, the severity of the alleged misconduct, the potential criminal or regulatory enforcement or civil litigation that may arise from the matter, as well as whether such an allegation can be addressed through management action alone.
Throughout the investigation, the investigator must be cautious not to jump to any conclusions before all the facts are available. Once the interviews are conducted, other necessary procedures, such as evidence gathering, should be completed. Once any credibility issues have been resolved, the investigator will evaluate all the information for a formal recommendation.
The investigator or member of management and legal counsel should make the final determination of any employment actions that are warranted based on the investigative report. In the final determination, the employer should consider all the parties involved and the organizational processes, not just whether the accused is guilty.
Decisions frequently fail because key factors are overlooked or ignored from the start. So, before you can make a decision, you must first fully comprehend your situation. Begin by considering the decision in light of the problem it is meant to solve. You must determine whether the stated problem is the real problem or merely a symptom of something more serious.
Look past the obvious. It’s possible that your goal can be approached in isolation, but it’s more likely that there are several interconnected factors to consider. Changes made in one department, for example, may have unintended consequences in another, rendering the change ineffective.