Our research “Aftermath or Afterglow: Improving Team Dynamics and Workplace Culture After a Misconduct Investigation” has revealed a treasure-trove of practical tips for employers, international best practice and ‘things to think about’ following a workplace investigation. In our last two blog posts, we considered the role of employment policies and the importance of doing something to address any lingering conflict and emotion.
In this post, we set out the top ten things you can do after a workplace investigation to improve workplace culture and team dynamics.
1. Don’t pretend that the ‘problem is solved’, or that the conflict will disappear just because the investigation has concluded. Employees’ feelings of frustration, anger, hurt and possibly betrayal will not have gone away. Consider the situation carefully and work out what action will have a strong and positive impact.
2. If the respondent was found to have engaged in misconduct, address disciplinary issues first. Make a decision under your policy, and in consultation with the respondent’s line manager, about whether or not disciplinary action is needed.
3. If the complainant and the respondent are both still employed, consider whether they should continue to work together. If so, consider a mediation or facilitated discussion, or conflict coaching. This will enable the complainant and respondent to take responsibility for managing their own contribution to the conflict, and ensure they understand that the employer expects them to ‘get back to work’.
4. Don’t forget to offer the complainant, respondent, and any other affected employees access to counselling or your Employee Assistance Program.
5. Our research showed that training is the best team intervention you can offer – especially training that is tailored to your organisation and the issues that the staff has faced. In particular, consider running a training program about:
• Identifying bullying behaviour
• The impacts of bullying behaviour on individuals, on teams and on organisations
• Where to raise concerns and to get advice
• Being an ‘active bystander’ and how to stand up to bad behaviour in the workplace
• Handling workplace disputes confidently and modelling the organisation’s expected behaviours (for managers).
Once you have run the training, don’t forget to follow up! Check in on the team one month and two months later, to see how they are travelling and whether any further intervention is necessary.
6. Review what employee feedback mechanisms you have in place. Do you run an annual employee engagement survey, and when is it next due? You could run a mid-year ‘pulse check’, or a workplace review to see how the team is really travelling.
7. Team-building programs don’t have to competitive and sporty. As I said in my webinar, there are other options than paintball! Consider an ongoing or repeated team-building activity that gives the team real opportunity to get to know each other better and to try new ways of collaborating, without pitting them against each other.
8. Consider: when did your organisation last review its values? Is this a good time to develop or review the organisational values which guide the decisions and actions of your staff? A values project, run in-house or with external facilitation, is a great opportunity to employees and managers to discuss ‘above the line’ and ‘below the line’ behaviours, what sort of workplace they want to create, and how they will achieve that together. Our review of current research confirms that organisational morale is a key predictor of civility in the workplace – working on shared values is a great way to build morale and a positive workplace culture.
9. Managers must understand the importance and impact that their own individual behaviours have in the workplace. Consider giving managers KPIs related to ‘modelling the values’, ‘being a trusted leader’ and ‘actively helping staff to resolve disputes and concerns’. Consider training them in leading diverse teams, managing conflict with emotional intelligence, managing performance and having conversations that matter. Call it ‘leadership training’ to ensure they show up!
10. Finally, don’t forget the more contemporary initiatives – even if they might not appear to be directly related to conflict resolution or complaints-handling. Health, wellbeing and empowerment initiatives have been identified in the recent research as very useful to prevent bullying, minimise stress and improve team culture. These include promoting professional and personal development, and offering initiatives to improve work/life balance and physical and mental health.
Remember, if the situation is a complex one and you’d like to talk through the options, contact us. We can talk you through the various options, and their pros and cons and costs. We have worked with hundreds of employers to resolve thousands of disputes over the last 10 years, and we would be happy to help you work out what best intervention will ‘fix your team’ and find peace and productivity once again!
If you are interested in learning more about effective individual, team and organisational interventions you can make to rebuild team dynamics and organisational culture following a misconduct investigation, you can download Worklogic’s research whitepaper, and view our free webinar on-demand “Best Practice on your Post Investigation Journey”.
About Rose Bryant-Smith
Rose Bryant-Smith is the co-founder and director of Worklogic. She is passionate about building ethical, productive and innovative workplaces. Rose leads projects about organisational ethics, risk management, corporate governance and organisational performance.
Worklogic works with employers to resolve workplace complaints and create a positive culture at work.
If your organisation needs help developing effective post-investigation intervention strategies to rebuild team dynamics and organisational culture, please contact Worklogic.
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