1. Independence is critical – use outside counsel for serious or complex employee matters (i.e., those which may result in claims or litigation).
2. When conducting interviews, be personable, non-condescending, non-accusatory, and open-minded. Your approach should be fact-gathering, not conclusion-confirming.
3. Similarly, your mindset throughout investigations should be about fact discovery and neutrality. The facts should shape your theory of the matter – never the reverse.
4. You can never start an investigation too early. As soon as an employer is informed of a complaint, misconduct, or wrongdoing, the investigation should begin, and so should the proper steps (gather evidence, conduct interviews, document events, plan the next phase, etc.).
5. Always be mindful of how the investigation and evidence an employer relies on for their ultimate business decision would look at trial. While 99% of matters don't reach trial, conduct yourself and the investigation as if it will.