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<xTITLE>Avoid 3 Common Grievance and Disciplinary Investigation Problems</xTITLE>

Avoid 3 Common Grievance and Disciplinary Investigation Problems

by Katherine Graham
January 2016

CMP Resolution Blog by Lesley Allport and Katherine Graham.

Katherine Graham

Before you start implementing a grievance or disciplinary process, be aware of the three possible points of quality failure before you start.

You may have experienced and skilled managers, but do they know how to do a fair and unbiased investigation?

The first point of failure is that too often by the time someone is senior enough to take the role, their confidence in their own subjective judgement has grown to the point where they confuse subjectivity with objectivity. “In my view he came over as a reflective and responsible manager who is aware of the difference between firm management and bullying” may feel neutral and insightful but it is in fact subjective and nothing like the ‘evidence’ required. “Have you ever heard of Mary bullying anyone else?” may feel like you’re probing, but is actually asking for gossip and hearsay.

The evidence may be there, but getting it across in a way which shows clear thinking and analysis, is the second potential point of failure

The evidence gathered is only as good as the report it is contained in. If the report is too long, we risk losing the sight of the key issues. If it’s too short, vital evidence may have been omitted. Can you investigators translate the wealth of data surfaced during their investigaiton into a logical and transparent report?

The third point of failure lies with the Hearing Manager

Do they understand bullying and harassment properly? Are they senior management who may have some out of date views on what’s appropriate at work? And is there a consistent understanding and set of standards across your SMT? Or is Senior Manager 1 likely to discipline someone for an offense that Senior Manager 2 would put down to banter? Getting your deciding officers to work from the same principles and values is the final stage in your risk management.

If you manage each point of failure properly you will control your risk of appeal, ET and reputational damage.


Katherine Graham has worked in the field of dispute resolution for over 15 years’ as a mediator and trainer. She has mediated on the BBC Learning Zone and has given keynote speeches on conflict management and mediation for The MOD’s Equal Opportunities Conference, Women in Business Annual conference and “Getting Beyond Conflict”, a national conference on workplace dispute resolution. Katherine joined CMP Resolutions (formerly Conflict Management Plus) in 1992. She was made a director of the company in 1998 and became Managing Director in May 2009. Prior to this she managed teams in publishing and communications departments for major national charities including The Work Foundation, the RNID and the King’s Fund. She was the inaugural Chair of the Institute of Conflict Management.


Author of The Directory of Mediation Services for Social Landlords (National Housing Federation)

Editor, “Equilibrium” – a quarterly journal of dispute resolution

Co-author Mediation for Managers (NB Books 2002)

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Additional articles by Katherine Graham