How many times have you heard “we can’t do anything about it until you put it in writing?”
For whatever reason the person making the statement has – it’s rarely a helpful statement to make. You say “write” and I hear “dismissed”. Especially in response to a conversation about other’s poor behaviour.
Yet the experience of many employees who may want to talk through behaviour problems with their manager or the HR department is to met with.
At work the statement “I can’t do anything unless you put it in writing” puts the responsibility on people to pursue behavioural issues usually through an individual grievance – a process which largely dissatisfies those who use it.
Formal grievance procedures ought to be the last step taken – after all informal avenues are exhausted – in addressing problem poor conduct.
With sound leadership about resolving behaviour problems informally managers may start action without waiting for something in writing. The first step would be to ask around and get some perspectives of the conduct being talked about. Your findings will often be ambiguous – rarely do people make bad decisions and behave poorly to all colleagues all the time. The different perspectives will help decide the range of management actions – the informal attempts to resolve what is happening.
You do not need a written grievance to hear the concerns, to be alive to the impact and the concern of staff members about the behaviour of another.
With safeguards against raising false concerns in bad faith or for personal gain the initiative is worth considering in all workplaces struggling with significant under-reporting of poor behaviour and a poor record of resolving behaviour concerns.
Does your approach to dealing with reports of unreasonable behaviour resolve concerns or create them?
By Joe Moore. Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact Joe here