Of course every nonprofit employee is a dedicated worker who could never do anything wrong on the job. The reality, of course, is quite different, and at the 2014 Nonprofit Risk Summit, Frank M. Pawlak, an attorney with more than 30 years representing management in labor and employment law, discussed the unfortunate topic of workplace investigations.
One integral part of such an investigation is interviewing the employee who is accused of a violation. This might not be the most fun thing a supervisor can do, but it must take place.
- Pawlak urged the following considerations during an interview of an employee who is charged with wrongdoing:
- Set the tone of the interview;
- Draft a preliminary list of questions in advance;
- Describe each behavior and give the interviewee an opportunity to confirm or deny each behavior;
- Ask open-ended questions: Who, What, When, Where, How and Why;
- Avoid asking leading questions;
- Ask questions that force the interviewee to relate events chronologically;
- Do not ask compound questions; and,
- Ask follow-up questions.
If the interviewee admits the behavior, explain that the behavior is unwelcome and must be stopped. Determine whether any potential witnesses exist to support the interviewee’s position. And, determine whether any documentation exists to support the interviewee’s position.