I often find that December is the time of year that grievances are raised, particularly in relation to co-workers and colleagues. Perhaps it's because employees are worn out and fed up by the time Christmas comes along. Perhaps it's because people have more time to think during the festive break. Whatever the reason, whatever the time of year, here's my top tips on handling grievances...
Assuming makes an ass of u and me!
The thing is with grievances, they're super subjective. What one person finds offensive, another might not. So you can't ever assume that there has definitely been bullying & harassment and you also can't assume that employees are being overly "sensitive".
You do, however, need to take appropriate action, swiftly.
Get your Sherlock Holmes on
Fire up Detective Mode and start gathering the facts. You might need to interview the person who raised the grievance first, or you might simply need to gather some evidence. The key is in the word FACTS. You need to try to sift through the emotion that often comes with grievances and get to the bottom of what has actually happened.
Speak to the relevant people. Gather any documentary evidence including CCTV footage where appropriate. Pull it all together into a report which summarises the findings. Remember that investigating means finding out the information, whether it supports the allegations or not.
Refer to your policies
A lot of the time when assessing grievances, we have to look at it in two parts.
Firstly, we have to assess whether the person who raised the grievance is justified in feeling the way they do. Do you feel they have justification for being offended or upset, or are we looking at two people who simply don't get along and are fuelling their dislike of one another by raising grievances?
Referring back to your policies will enable to to decide whether the behaviour being displayed could be considered to be bullying or harassment by reviewing the definition.
Secondly, once the grievance has been resolved we have to decide whether any misconduct or gross misconduct has occurred.
If your investigation finds that there is evidence of bullying behaviour, you should consider following your disciplinary procedure to deal with the alleged bully.
However if the grievance investigation finds that there hasn't been any misconduct but there is clearly conflict between employees it might be a really simple case to resolve with something like mediation.
Grievances are not usually straightforward and often grow arms and legs to run away with you if you're not careful!
So whatever the situation, refer to your policies, follow them, and ask for help if you get in a muddle.
See you in the new year!
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