Conflict over what was said (or not said) depending who you talk to

[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 02-26-07 AT 10:06PM (CST)[/font][br][br]Background: One of our teams here is playing their own unauthorized reality game of Survivor. It's a team of four and for 2 of the 4 members, there is "baggage" from prior experience working together years ago. The newest member has been with the company 5 years and the most senior over 15 years. It's two against two.

Last week one of the team asked to speak to the manager about a comment one of the others on the team made. It was a not so nice comment about an ethnic supplier.

Manager talks to the person who allegedly made the comment as a verbal warning - she denies making this statement.

We met with her today as she requested a meeting (and brought along a document indicating why she wouldn't say something like that and believes it's a member of her team going behind her back as she never wanted her on the team in the first place). She was upset all weekend about it and couldn't sleep.

Outside of having the manager physically move closer to them, have concerns that more misunderstandings like this will occur in the future.

What have you done in these type of situations?
If other team member emphatically states that the comment was made, do you keep the warning and attach the rebuttal for the file?


  • 4 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 02-27-07 AT 07:57AM (CST)[/font][br][br][font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 02-27-07 AT 07:55 AM (CST)[/font]

    In cases of "he said, she said" with no objective evidence, I generally give the accused the benefit of the doubt. However, I do thoroughly document my investigation for my file. I also make the consequences and discplinary action clear to each party "if" he/she was guilty of this accusation or of fabricating the accusation.

    This usually serves as a deterrent for any future behavior. If not, then the behavior is likely to manifest again in a different way. Then, I do believe in the old adage..where there's smoke, there's fire.

    As for the immature behavior the teams are displaying...I would get them together to try to air the issues and get them to agree to at least polite behavior. I would remind them of the negative effect their behavior could have on their career. In addition, I'm not sure what your company policy is, but we have a policy against disruptive behavior in the workplace and I have given a few warnings for this, so you could mention this deterrent, too.
  • I am in total agreement with HR in NR. If you consider the judicial aspect the "he" said "she" said bears no weight in either direction. Basically, why would you say one is telling the truth and the other is not? Each case stands alone and if you can't nail down witnesses, etc. then it's a draw. Document and be consistent.
    When in doubt always think of that mean old labor law attorney and if he can tear this down to nothing. If it can't stand the heat of a good labor law attorney then think twice on any "he" said "she" said.
  • Agree with both of the prior responders. You have a 'he said/she said' situation. Investigate it and document your investigation file. I do not issue discipline in cases like that in that discipline should be based on sound findings (or at least a confession/admission of guilt). Review your policy and ensure that you have a provision for workers to file complaints, have the complaints taken seriously, and have no fear of reprisal for making complaints in good faith. The policy should also contain a provision that subjects the complainer to potential discipline for frivilous complaints that are not made in good faith. In situations like the one you have, I have in the past retrained all parties in the policy individually, documented their training, and included an aspect of training to review the 'good faith' part.

    Best wishes.
  • Agree with others, but wanted to add some additional thoughts to try to stop future conflict. If you have EAP, you may want to see if you can get some assistance for the group or try some teambuilding exercises. Bottom line is this -- you don't have to LIKE the people you work with but EVERYONE must be treated with RESPECT and DIGNITY. No exceptions.....
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