Investigating Complaints That are Entangled With Performance Issues
Every company will inevitably encounter times when they must conduct an employment related internal investigation. There are many employee relations type laws that require an employer to investigate employee complaints. When a complaint is received, or the employer becomes aware of a potentially problematic situation, the employer is on notice to act.
Those situations become very complicated when a performance issue is added to the list of concerns. Investigations become even more problematic when a Supervisor starts out trying to address what they consider solely a performance issue and during its resolution, the employee raises an employee relations complaint. Employers often assume that the raised issue(s) are an “excuse” for poor performance. While that is not unheard of, it is quite common for an underlying employee relations issue to cause performance problems. The one thing that is certain is that if the employer does not investigate carefully, that problem will certainly become more complicated and riskier to the company.
Further compounding the problem is that since most managers do not start managing until there is a problem, and employees have rights against retaliation in regards to making complaints, managing employees during and after investigations, especially employees with performance problems, creates further risk for complaints of retaliation. Supervisors are often frustrated while employees who have made complaints are suspicious for any management efforts that they consider retaliatory.
Wherever there are employees, there will be employee relations issues and performance issues. Conducting an investigation means knowing how to separate and investigate problems that may have several layers or components to them. Knowing how to conduct such an investigation is one of the most critical skills every manager, supervisor and certainly, every HR professional needs in today’s workplace. A professional investigation helps an employer defend against legal liability and can send a message to employees that they work for an ethical company.
- How to investigate an employee relations complaint from an employee with performance problems.
- How and when HR should step into a Supervisors performance management process when an employee relations complaint has been raised.
- Managing employee performance during an ongoing investigation.
- Separating the employee relations elements from the performance problems, so you can investigate properly.
- How to educate complaining employees with performance problems during investigations.
- Avoiding claims of retaliation during employee relations investigations involving employees with performance problems.
- Managers and Supervisors roles during and after an investigation.
- Interviewing employees with performance problems who claim it is really an employee relations issue.
- Making good decisions regarding the facts.
- Closing an employee relations investigation with an employee with an existing performance problem.
- Handling employee’s suspicions and Supervisor’s frustrations.
- After the investigation. Monitoring for retaliation.
- How to avoid claims of retaliation from low performing employees after investigations are closed.
Teri Morning, MBA, MS, SPHR, SPHR-CA is the President of her own HR Consulting firm and Principal Partner in a new company HindsightHR 2013 Employee Relations and Investigation Management software. She has over 15 years human resource and training experience in a variety of professional fields, including finance, retail, distribution, architectural, engineering, consulting, manufacturing (union), public sector and both profit and non-profit company structures. She has consulted with employers on... View Full Profile
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