I love the way you lie…
Well, not really. But you know all of those “he said/she said” situations HR folks are faced with…how in the world do you ever get to the truth? Most internal HR professionals choose the easy way out – call it a spitting contest and err in favor of the company. However, did you know that EEOC investigators are trained to make credibility assessments? And if they can do it, you can too by looking at a few things during your internal investigation:
1. Motivation – why would the complainant make something up? Was he/she denied a promotion…was there a relationship gone bad? What does the accused stand to gain by lying? Ask this straight out and probe both parties and witnesses about motivating factors.
2. Look carefully at personnel records of both parties to see if there is any history of deceit/wrong doing/etc. Look to see if the complainant is missing work due to stress over the situation.
3. Pay close attention to body language of both parties. Can they both look you in the eye and keep an open posture with you?
4. Have the story retold to you a few times to make sure it stays the same.
5. Although there is always a strong desire to contain the investigation to as few people as possible, interview witnesses. Was the story confided to anyone? Did the complainant ever look upset? Interview others in the work area, previous employees of the supervisor including those who may have left the company or the department to see if this behavior had occurred in the past.
Most inappropriate behavior occurs one on one without a witness. Most superiors know that they will be believed over a subordinate. And yes people do lie… but make sure you do your best investigation or it will only be a matter of time until the liar rears its ugly head once again.