Unfortunately, in most cases neither of these individuals really knows how to go about carrying out the investigations in a manner that puts the company in the best possible position to achieve success.
That’s not to say that every investigation ends in a lost case, or with insufficient evidence. There are countless successes and CCMA (Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration) cases where brilliant workplace investigations have led to the company proving and winning its case.
But there are probably countless more where poor investigation skills, lack of evidence gathering resources and reliance on “pot luck” have contributed to costly litigation and embarrassing retractions of charges and findings.
To highlight my point on why not everyone is equipped to handle workplace investigations, especially those in the field of criminal, ask yourself this… Do you or the person responsible for investigating a criminal case or incident know and understand the nine (9) phases of workplace investigation?
For those who are not sure here they are:
- Planning and interpretation
- Collection of facts and related information
- Verifying and fine tooth combing analysis
- Input and decision making
- Review of concrete evidence vs prima facie evidence
- Case preparation and charge sheet disbursement
- Presentation and cross examination understanding
- Review of how to prevent recurring matters of the same or similar situations
To proceed otherwise when investigating cases of criminal or nefarious activities is simply foolhardy, dangerous and proves difficult to achieve success. The investigator or person responsible for investigating cases in your company will stand to have a massive advantage when they impose process and structure to their investigation. Furthermore, having a complete understanding of the investigation process will certainly differentiate the investigator as a reliable, fair and professional person when compared against the “fake it till I make it“ group.
However, as with most things in life, it is more often than not as simple or straightforward as it may seem. Employees can be devious, even outright pathological and very often, more cunning and sly than you or your peers may think. In my experience conducting workplace investigations, especially those that may carry the possibility of criminal prosecution with them, usually requires investigation techniques and procedures not known by the suspects. The problem is unless you are a seasoned investigator with sufficient resources available to you, implementation of these strategies will prove difficult.
Your toolbox of resources
There is the well-used adage of “it’s not what you know but, rather who you know” and in the investigation environment (private or government) there is no better guideline. One cannot be an exceptionally successful investigator without a team of connections who specialised in their field. Take cell phone forensics for example. Unless you are proficient and fortunate enough to have the correct software and analysis experience, you are sure to lose out on critical opportunities to collect evidence. Likewise, without access to a specialist polygraph examiner, how will you initially determine or separate your persons of interest vs those of no probable involvement?
Barring two (2) companies (both incidentally mines) I have in over 34 years, never encountered a non-investigative company with all the required portfolios under one roof. Therein lies one of the most serious challenges for successful workplace investigations, conducted by in-house staff. They are significantly obstructed by the non-existence of a “toolbox “ of their own. This kind of reminds one of the plight faced by the six (6) CIA operatives hung out to dry when attempting to rescue the American ambassador to Benghazi, depicted so brilliantly in the Michael Bay film, 13 Hours: The Secret Solders of Benghazi.
By now you are probably grinding your teeth, and feeling a little frustrated. Asking yourself the obvious question, so what do I do? Here’s the answer…
Firstly, accept that if you do not have the skills, resources and time to see any part of a business investigation through DO NOT TRY!! This is the golden rule! Seriously, would you try removing the blue, yellow and green wires from an explosive device based on some internet reading and a gut feel ? There are experts ready to deal with this. Yes, you can definitely assist and oversee the investigation. Yes, your HR department head should give input. But no, you are too passionate, to close and way too invested to run a criminal workplace investigation on your own.
Now, I understand that because I, Kyle Condon, the author of this blog, have suggested you or your HR department seriously consider calling in an independent business investigation and forensic consulting company, you probably are at the very least wondering if what I’ve said is possibly not just fear mongering with the purpose of driving business our way. Fair reasoning, but if so, answer the following two (2) questions and if your answer is NOT a resounding YES then at least keep in mind why I recommend professional private investigation services for serious workplace investigations.
Question 1: Does your company have an effective intelligence driven strategy derived from well-placed undercover operatives/informers/investigators?
Question 2: Do you believe in your heart that you or the company is suffering at the hands of dishonest employees, but you have the sufficient evidence to proceed against them ?
As I said, if you answered anything but YES , then at the very least we can agree that you probably need the peace of mind in having the contact details of a reputable, experienced and professional forensic investigation company. So, where do you find a professional, licensed and trusted forensic and private investigation company?
As I mentioned earlier in this article, I have had the honour of operating in this country in the investigation sector for thirty four (34) years. That naturally means I’ve had the privilege to meet the best and probably the worst the industry has to offer. Having said that, I would not be doing the private investigation industry any justice if I didn’t mention without fear or favour, my opinion on the top five (5) companies I respect and would offer as an alternative to my own company.
In no particular order (other than the No 1 spot obviously), here is my list of South Africa’s top five (5) sought after investigation agencies for workplace investigation services:
- D&K Management Consultants cc
- SSC Legacy
- Rick Crouch
- Zero Foundation
As always, I hope you found this edition of Strawberries and Cyanide informative and maybe even motivating. As I’m no writer or poet, something you would’ve picked up probably two sentences in, I’m chuffed as mustard if you’ve read this far …… Thank you!
For any further information on the services D&K Management Consultants cc provides, feel free to click the button below.