This is the second in a series of blogs on encouraging team members, co-workers and supervisors to help your team accomplish its objectives and pushing for your findings to lead to action. The first, Managing Up: Demonstrating the Value of Taking Action, can be found here.

Thoroughly investigating complaints as quickly as possible is the most important part of an HR investigator’s job.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone else in an agency.  In some cases, contributing to an investigation is deliberately deprioritized because the employee faces other deadlines that will determine their standing in the agency.  More often, they intend to help (whether that’s participate in an interview, provide a statement or complete paperwork) but forget about it as the request lies unanswered in their inbox.

Unfortunately, investigations don’t age well.  Memories fade.  Evidence is discarded, including by people who don’t even realize it’s evidence.  And as bad behavior goes unpunished over a longer and longer period of time, co-workers begin to assume it is tolerated, poisoning the culture of the agency.

Because of this, it’s important to get feedback as quickly as possible from witnesses, managers and co-workers of the complainant.  Here are a few tips to do exactly that.

Set expectations:  To someone who has never been involved in an investigation, a request for information can look like a jury summons – an indefinite time commitment to an unpleasant process. Letting a person know their expected time commitment can speed up the response if they’re not a major player in the investigation.

Don’t be afraid to send frequent reminders: Ideally, your HR investigations management software won’t let requests sit unanswered for more than a few days without automatically sending out reminders that you are awaiting a response.  A reminder sets the expectation of response time by letting the other party know you were expecting a response by now but haven’t received it.

Explain why a prompt response is important:  People who don’t conduct HR investigations don’t realize how significant a day or two can be in terms of retained knowledge.  Explaining that prompt responses lead to better information and help to ensure that all parties are treated fairly may push them to provide their input to the investigation more quickly.

Of course, if the person is reluctant to participate, it could be because they fear being implicated.  While that fear may be unjustified, it also might not be.  If a person seems to be fighting an investigation rather than contributing to it willingly, it’s worth considering whether they have a perfectly good reason for that.

To learn how CMTS:HR can help your HR team improve investigations data collection, searching, and reporting, call us at 855-636-5361 or email us at