Should you use mediation or investigation when dealing with a workplace grievance?

MyKludo member, Catherine D’hage, talks about the role of mediation and investigation when dealing with workplace grievances. Catherine talks about her passion for helping organisations resolve conflict and her professional journey as an investigator.

Catherine D’hage has been a Private Investigator for the past 5 years but she started her journey in investigations when she joined the Queensland Police some 20 years ago.

Catherine specialises in workplace grievances and conduct issues such as bullying. She developed her particular specialty of interviewing vulnerable witnesses through her time in the Child Safety and Sexual Crimes Unit in Queensland Police, and now uses these skills to assist organisations to investigate grooming and professional misconduct. Catherine says that “after such a long time doing investigations’ she is passionate about helping organisations to prevent them. She said, “investigations are appropriate for serious conduct matters” however, she would like to see more early intervention, training for managers, conflict coaching and mediation as that shall reduce workplace investigations.

When should you consider using mediation

During the wrap up phase of an investigation Catherine likes to discuss options for resolution with the client and often recommends further training for employees regarding respectful workplace behaviour and for managers regarding mediation at early stages of conflict and then following the investigation to help restore fractured workplace relationships.

“I cannot assist with the mediation because it’s a conflict of interest if I have done the investigation. However, I often suggest mediation as an outcome of a grievance. I am happy helping people and it reduces WorkCover claims. Using mediation, people are more likely to stay in the workplace and are happy with the outcomes”.

What career path prepared you for this work

Catherine understands how her 10 years as a detective in the Police prepared her for her current work giving her skills in managing difficult people, dealing with conflict, negotiation skills and experience mediating disputes. Detective training taught her how to obtain detailed statements and conducting formal interviews with those accused. She also studied the rules of evidence, psychology and the skills involved in compiling briefs of evidence. It is not transition that every officer can make however.

Catherine has also worked for the Education Department investigating allegations of teacher wrongdoing. In this role, Catherine developed report writing skills, how to present evidence and develop an argument in a report  which she describes as “an invaluable experience, you deal with a wide range of misconduct including  fraud, bullying and sexual harassment. The report writing is certainly a different skill, not the same as compiling a brief of evidence.”

Catherine considers her collected experience as essential for private business, “I couldn’t have done what I do now without it. I also undertook mediation training which expanded my skills.  I would recommend mediation training, as an investigator it is invaluable.” Catherine found that in private business, clients look to her as an expert to help resolve the problem. Catherine believes that as an independent investigator you must have the right level of skills, knowledge and training to provide sound advice to clients and to implement the right actions, be it a mediation or an investigation.

What skills and expertise do you need

The skills you need include good communication, being open to feedback, and flexibility. “Every client is different so it’s about working with them.”

Catherine attributes her success to her strengths;

  • Being a good listener
  • Extracting particulars
  • Being empathetic
  • Having an unbiased approach
  • And showing respect to all parties.

As to the question whether you should use mediation or investigation, Catherine believes that every case is unique and that investigations are sometimes critical in determining the right step necessary to resolving the situation. Mediation may be appropriate to either avoid an investigation or as an important process following an investigation. In addition, conflict resolution is a lot cheaper for the Client.

How can MyKludo help businesses deal with grievances and conflict in the workplace

The MyKludo Community provides clients with access to hundreds of experienced investigation professionals and can match any requirements that a particular case may need. If you are not sure if you need an investigator or mediation contact MyKludo and we can match your needs to the perfect provider. Call 8am to 8pm  1300 994 557

Harriet Witchell

Harriet Witchell founder of MyKludo, has worked in the Investigations industry for over 20 years. Holding many titles to her name including, specialist workplace investigator, business owner, speaker, author, academic, researcher, and trainer.

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