You are probably accustomed to meeting with individual employees who have problems with a manager. But what do you do when a handful of employees request a meeting with HR? Don’t be flustered, intimidated or decline to meet. Use the following plan to handle the situation:
Step 1: Request an outline. Ask about the nature of the complaints and whether employees have met with the manager. Schedule a meeting with employees to hear details about the issues. Ask the group to write an outline of their complaints and bring it to the meeting.
Step 2: Listen and learn. During the meeting, don’t assume you know the grievances. Be open-minded. Listen. Employees may have withheld the issues for months and could have plenty to say. Take notes.
Play it straight. Don’t respond with surprise, light-hearted comments or remarks that could be perceived as criticism.
Step 3: Ask and clarify. After that, ask questions to determine whether employees believe the manager violated specific policies and procedures, or if they simply think the boss is rude or incompetent.
Don’t cast deep doubts with remarks such as: “Other employees don’t have such complaints.” or“Are you sure about that?”
Try to determine whether other employees within and outside of the department feel the same way. Ask, “How do others feel about the issues you have expressed?”
Step 4: Identify solutions. Ask employees to suggest possible solutions. The responses can help you determine how serious employees take their complaints. Shake hands with each person at the end to show good will. Thank employees for expressing their views.
Then meet with the manager. Detail employees’ complaints and ask for the person’s view. Request ideas for solutions from the manager, and work out a plan for improvement.
Step 5: Follow up. Document the meetings (and results) in employee files. Let employees know the outcome even if no action is taken. Failing to respond gives the impression that you don’t care.