Being Done is Not as Important as Being Thorough Part Three in our Ten-Part Series on Investigation Blunders to Avoid

Having emphasized last month the importance of not sitting on your hands, telling you to start (!), this month we offer a word of caution. Starting right away, moving efficiently, and getting things done are critical. But nothing warrants failing to do a thorough job.

The temptation to just get things done can be great. You may put pressure on yourself, the law requires promptness, and those around you – complainants, respondents, clients, and management – may all be putting intense outside pressure upon you. We don’t minimize any of that.

Your obligation to be thorough is paramount. While that does not mean turning over every rock, even those attenuated to the matter at hand, it does mean tracking down relevant and potentially impactful evidence you have a reasonable basis to believe is available. That requires diligence and persistence, following up with witnesses, working to overcome obstacles to accessing evidence, and taking the time necessary to pore over what can often be voluminous data.

Such thoroughness will undoubtedly take time, time that will lengthen the investigation. But so long as you have good reasons for all of your actions, document those in the file, and detail them in your report, there will be no tension between thorough and prompt.

Avoid the Following Investigation Blunders

Last month, we provided you with an overview of “Investigation Blunders” to avoid in 2020 (click here).  Over the rest of the year, we will be highlighting each in turn.

Not investigating “hearsay” or “rumor” or not investigating because the complainant asked you not to
Sitting on your hands
Prioritizing being done over being thorough
Failing to talk to comparators or former employees
Building a case instead of investigating a complaint with an open mind
Talking too much and/or closing off possible responses by using leading or accusatory questions
Not getting facts – letting the witness characterize events
Promising confidentiality
Checking your other senses – including common sense – at the door
Relying too much (or at all!) on “demeanor” evidence