By Bridgette Hernandez , Guest Blogger –
Generally speaking, business and HR managers tend to avoid resorting to investigations to solve internal issues. However, there are cases when such inquiries are vital, which means that a company should have a credibility assessment strategy in place.
Essentially, credibility assessment strategies help determine whether both parties of a conflict are telling the truth. The trick is to remove bias and evaluate the evidence objectively.
Which strategies can you employ for workplace investigations and to resolve internal conflicts? Let’s take a look at six successive strategies:
1. Start with a Timeline of Events
Create a timeline to describe the order and chronology in which the events occurred. It helps an investigator find gaps, evaluate the involvement of conflict parties, fact-check claims, and establish alibis.
Here’s the most efficient way to create a detailed chronology of events:
- Timeline – Get each party to describe the issue or situation and create a timeline. Based on their words, develop two timelines of the event.
- When did conflict arise – Assess the narrative given by both parties and determine when the disagreement or conflict began and ended.
- Did either party get help – Find out if either party got help and at what point. It helps determine the time when either party got interested in resolving the conflict.
- Check the time – Find out when the complaint was submitted. Then, compare it to the time when the dispute started.
- Create a new timeline – based on the evidence you’ve collected, objectively outline the chronology of events and establish a reason for the conflict.
Your goal here is to establish a timeline that provides a clear sequence of conflict development. Later, it will help to evaluate the credibility of the claims cited by both parties.
2. Confirm What Did and Didn’t Happen
With a timeline in hand, now investigate. Find the history of both sides of the conflict, check if they have been involved in similar situations previously, and how it played out for them.
At this point, the following strategies can help:
- HR for performance-related documents – With HR documents, you might determine whether there are personal motives behind this conflict.
- Evaluate performance-related evidence – See if this evidence fits into the timeline. Are there any red flags that indicate any party’s malicious intent that could undermine their credibility?
- Check documentation for similar situations – See if similar conflicts occurred between other employees, check what the reason was and how it was resolved. The idea is to collect any documents to help fact-check the claims that both parties provide during further investigation.
3. Analyze Each Party’s Story
Sit down with each side of the conflict separately and ask for more details. Get to the root cause of the situation and determine if the reason for the conflict you have established earlier is true.
Here are some strategies you can take advantage of at this stage:
- Let each person; ask follow-up questions only. At this point, write down every detail without interrupting the party.
- Compare each party’s claims – Once you give both parties a chance to speak, they might mistakenly provide details that contradict their previous narrative. Your task is to follow the timeline to pinpoint any contradictions.
- Analyze the party’s behavior now vs. during other conflicts. If the parties have been involved in similar situations before, use the documentation you’ve obtained earlier to evaluate their behavior now vs. then.
Before beginning with either party, remind them of company policies and confidentiality rules. Your company should also have clear interrogation procedures. Your task is to determine the logic behind each party’s claims and see if there are inconsistencies.
To do this, is it important to create a comfortable environment for each party to speak their mind. The environment should be comfortable and safe.
4. Evaluate the Involvement of Third Parties
Now determine whether there are others involved in the conflict. It can be people with direct or indirect knowledge of the situation.
Evaluating the involvement of third parties can reveal important details. The following are strategies to ensure you get as much information as you can:
- Make a list of all third parties involved in the conflict. During the interview, ask the primary parties of the conflict with whom they shared any details of the situation.
- Interview all other parties involved. Ask if they told anyone else of this situation and what exactly was shared.
- Evaluate the relationship between all the parties. This way, determine whether the third parties have a personal interest in hiding the truth or protecting one of the main participants.
At this stage, work closely with HR in the interview. You may find it useful to ask for additional documentation on the third parties and their previous involvement in similar situations.
5. Determine Inconsistencies in the Evidence
Now, it’s time to compare and contrast all the information collected. The goal is to trace the logic behind each participant’s story and find gaps and inconsistencies.
Here, you may find the following strategies useful:
- Give a personal impression of each participant’s story. Do you see any contradictions in what you’ve been told vs. how the situation looks? Write a few notes.
- Compare evidence to the timeline. When you have the full picture from all parties, it will be easier to spot gaps that could undermine credibility.
- Go through the performance documentation to find personal motives. Documents can give an objective view of the situation and help spot possible malicious intent.
Each inconsistency discovered needs to be supported. Provide irrefutable evidence if a party’s case lacks credibility.
6. Take Advantage of Technology to Help Find the Truth
Lastly, you can involve technology to check the feasibility of the inconsistencies you’ve found during the previous step (where the law permits).
First, check the emails of each party to find any details they haven’t provided before. You might consider checking phone records, log-in, and log-out history, and documents both parties submitted during the conflict’s timeline.
You can also administer a lie detection test as a part of the investigation. EyeDetect is highly accurate and fast. Also of importance is that the test is non-invasive and doesn’t make those tested feel uncomfortable.
Invite both parties separately to a final questioning, present evidence, and verify their veracity with EyeDetect. Of course, this is only valid where applicable by law and requires the person’s consent.
Workplace investigations can be very involved and complicated. HR professionals and business managers often avoid them to aggravate conflicts further.
When a workplace investigation is unavoidable, you should conduct one with credibility assessment, which could involve the strategies mentioned above.
Hopefully, this short guide will help you with these strategies, to get to the bottom of any conflicts and find reasonable solutions.
Author’s bio. Bridgette Hernandez is a professional writer and essay template creator for Subjecto. She also worked as an HR manager, helping companies develop different corporate policies. Brigette’s interest in psychology assists her by writing human resource management-related articles.
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