With more than 20 years experience conducting investigations, I have learned many valuable lessons to ensure a fair, neutral and thorough investigation occurs. If you are faced with alleged wrongdoing, policy violation or inappropriate conduct, below are recommended steps to follow to assist you in your internal investigation.
Was there a written complaint? What is the basis for conducting the investigation?
Be a reporter and ask the 5 W's - What happened? Who was present? Where did it happen? When did it happen? Why did it happen? Essentially, you want to gather if there were any witnesses; if there were any mitigating circumstances for the action; was the action physical, verbal, pictorial; did it occur onsite or offsite?
Select an investigator. Make sure this individual has previous investigatory experience, has no affiliation with the subject person, and has an attention to detail.
Determine list of individual to be interviewed. Keep in mind, this will be fluid and could change through the investigatory process. Draft a list of interview questions. End with the following two questions: is there anyone else I should interview to ensure a fair and complete investigation; and anything you would like to add that we didn't already cover?
Conduct the interviews in a private room and do your best to ensure that witnesses do not overlap as this is a sensitive/confidential matter.
Explain what level of confidentiality the participants can expect as well as the process steps and timeline.
Draft a written summary outlining the Background, Interviews Conducted, Recommendations.
Will there be any action items or follow up upon conclusion of the investigation.
As always, if you need assistance in conducting a sensitive investigation or have concerns regarding a workplace incident, we are here to assist you.