Being asked to conduct a workplace investigation can feel like a big jobHere’s some tips to make it all feel much more manageable 

1. Take a critical look at your brief

When you’re first asked to do an investigation, ask yourself whether you are crystal clear what is in, and out of scope. And we mean know exactly what you are looking into.  

For example, if the complaint is that someone ‘always’, ‘never’ or ‘often’ does something; confirm what specific examples, or precise timeframe, you are covering in your investigation.  

Secondly, if you’re investigating a situation: ‘Please investigate the fight that broke out in the canteen’; make sure you are clear whose behaviour you are investigating.   

Having a clear remit will set you up well to break down what you’re looking at in to bite-sized chunks.   

2. Break down the case to be investigated

Once your remit is clear, break down what you’re investigating in to 3 ‘bite-sized’ chunks:   

  • What actually happened? 
  • What are the relevant policies and rules? 
  • What are the relevant surrounding circumstances?  

Here’s an introduction to each chunk:

Our friends at Vista also run a really useful live workshop on this which you can book here.

3. Plan your workplace investigation using a matrix

Once you’re actually at the point of doing some interviews, where on earth should you start?

Try a matrix or grid with these points:

  • All the things you want to investigate (the rows).
  • Give each witness/relevant document a column each.

This way you’ll see who you need to interview about what.

Then fill in what each witness has told you after each interview, and differences in evidence will be easy to spot.

Take a look at Planning your Investigation for more tips on using a matrix like this.

4. Check what the rules are

When you’re gathering your evidence through your interviews, you need to compare what actually happened to the relevant policy or rule to be able to reach a conclusion.

Seems obvious, but checking the ‘rule’ can sometimes unearth something surprising results.

You can capture this detail in the rows of your matrix.  The columns will help you identify which witnesses you need to talk to about the rules.

Oh and one final tip, ask us for a free trial of our workplace investigation videos here.

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