When Internal Investigations Go Wrong
Blog by Kat Caudrelier
I have come across numerous managers who have been in situations where following an incident, they jump straight to discipline or attempt resolution before understanding what has actually happened.
Afterwards, they discover the facts weren’t as they thought, decisions need to be overturned and the ‘solution’ hasn’t quite solved the problem. What’s more, this approach can have huge legal implications, especially if the incident concerns an employee that you’ve dismissed by not taking into account all the details.
Investigators can be faced with either having too much information or not enough. Too much may mean the investigation takes longer than it should, the investigator must look through copious amounts of documents that may not relate to the issue at hand, which risks the investigation becoming more complex than it needs to be. Not enough information means an investigator may not have full sight of the problem and it can sometimes be difficult to fully understand the what, why, when, where, and how which is integral in any investigation.
I’ve been an investigator for 12 years and I would always prefer too much information over too little but what always makes evidence collection easier is when you know the client’s objectives (they may have 1, they may have 100) and they understand the investigation process that we put the information through.
Communication is key in any relationship. During an investigation, it is paramount that any new evidence or information is flagged and the investigator provides continuous updates on the process and any issues or requirements they haven’t been able to answer with the evidence provided in the initial stages.
On several occasions, I have come across information and evidence that doesn’t provide any insight into the requirement therefore going back to the client and letting them know that either the investigation cannot continue or a request for further information is necessary in order to progress.
An investigation into a situation should always be fully completed before action is taken or decisions are made, especially when they relate to disciplinary and misconduct matters. Companies can act too quickly or sometimes even without an investigation, which can leave the business wide open to reputational damage as well as litigation.
The list of flaws I have come across within an internal investigation process are endless; the most popular being –
- A decision has been made in haste usually based on bad or incomplete information
- A decision is not reasonable or balanced
- People involved in the investigation haven’t been able to represent themselves properly
It is always best to outsource these sorts of investigations to a reliable and independent company (Millbank Solutions, step forward!). This makes the investigation impartial and it is carried out by people with years of industry experience. In the past, I have come across external and internal biases which often creep into an internal investigation without the client even knowing. Stakeholders will also become reassured that any complaints are dealt with effectively.
By taking the time to investigate straight away, you will save time with appeals and potentially looking red-faced when having to face the true facts later down the line. This may lead to completely redoing an investigation or rectifying any mistakes to come to a fair decision. The truth will seek its way out eventually, so wouldn’t you rather find it before mistakes are made and you end up not only embarrassing yourself, but you put your job and the company at risk?
Millbank Solutions will work to inform your reasonable, fair decision-making process.
If you would like to discuss the services provided by Millbank Solutions, contact us via our website here, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on +44 (0)208 191 9979 (London) / +44 (0)191 909 7007 (Durham)