Workplace complaints against managers

August 15, 2018

Workplace complaints against managers – why do managers get complaints?

The easy answers are:
1. What they do!
2. What they don’t do!

What managers do

As a workplace investigator I have conducted a large number investigations into complaints about managers and what I have found is that many complaints come as a result of the manager:

* Managing and directing an employee
* Placing an employee on some form of performance improvement plan or program
* Conducting performance review with an employee
* Providing an employee with performance feedback
* Providing directions to an employee, especially via email

All of the above are examples of what we refer to as ‘Reasonable Management Action’.

The Fair Work Act s789FD (2) states that:

‘Behaviour will not be considered bullying if it is reasonable management action carried out in a reasonable manner.’
This exclusion is comprised of three elements:

  • The behaviour must be management action
  • It must be reasonable for the management action to be taken, and
  • The management action must be carried out in a manner that is reasonable

Element 1
The behaviour must be management action.

  • Reasonable action taken in a reasonable manner by an employer to manage, counsel, transfer, demote, discipline, retrench or dismiss an employee
  • Legitimate and appropriate management including the management of performance
  • Legitimate and appropriate performance review
  • A decision by an employer, based on reasonable grounds, not to award or provide a promotion, transfer, or benefit in connection with an employee’s employment

Element 2
It must be reasonable for the management action to be taken; there must be a valid and explainable reason such as;

  • Under performance
  • Legitimate and appropriate performance review
  • Misconduct or breach of a policy or Code of Conduct
  • A reasonable business ground not to award or provide a promotion, transfer, or benefit in connection with an employee’s employment.

Element 3
The management action must be carried out in a manner that is reasonable it is important to ensure:

  • The behaviour of the manager during the management action must be fair and reasonable
  • Clear communications of;
    • The issue
    • The expectation
    • The resolution
  • Timing
  • Listening
  • Support person

To ensure that the action is considered to be reasonable management action employers MUST adhere to the principles of Procedural Fairness.

What managers don’t do

The most common complaint about what managers don’t do its that the manager did not take any action when a complaint was made to them.  Inaction by a manager when a complaint is made is often due to the manager not knowing what to do in the circumstances.

Anther common issues is that the manager failed to adhere to the requirements of Procedural Fairness in disciplinary matter or performance matters that result in dismissal.

management essentials

Workplace complaints against managers – The solution for employers

The Management Essentials Training program has been designed to assist managers to deal with employment related issues, it comprises of four sections;

  1. Reasonable management Action (RMA).
  2. Performance Management to avoid complaints.
  3. Basic Dispute Resolution Interventions
  4. Dealing with misconduct and complaint handling for managers,

This training is recommended for all managers/team leaders/supervisors to help minimise costly and time consuming complaints against managers

Full day course covering:

  • The definitions of ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’ reasonable management action
  • The definitions of ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’ workplace bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination.
  • Why managers get complaints
  • Performance management to avoid complaints, A step by step process to ensure that if a complaint is made following performance management or feedback the manger satisfies the elements of RMA
  • Basic dispute intervention & resolution, including conducting meetings, getting participant buy in, creating agreements
  • Dealing with misconduct and complaint handling for managers also includes basic the investigation process.
  • Legal responsibilities

The Management Essentials Training course provides participants with:

  • Practical skills to enable managers to recognise what is and what is not reasonable management action, bullying, harassment and discrimination and offer strategies to deal with bullying and bullies effecting people in the workplace
  • Strategies to help managers when conducting performance management to help to ensure that they avoid substantiated complaints
  • Techniques to help managers conduct dispute resolution interventions/meetings and resolve workplace interpersonal disputes
  • Information and skills to help managers deal with misconduct and employee complaints in the workplace and to understand and identify the type of complaint and to access the best method to deal with the complaint
  • The opportunity to hear and discuss real investigations
  • The program includes a comprehensive participant workbook with case studies and case from Courts and the Fair Work Commission

The training is conducted by Phil O’Brien a highly qualified and experienced workplace investigator as a result of having to investigate a number of complaints against managers that had their origins in performance management, feedback or appraisals.  The training is not theory based, it is based on actually complaints and issues experience by managers. and designed to ensure that if a complaint is made that the manager acted in the appropriate manner.

Contact AWPTI to find out how your organisation can benefit from the Management Essentials program.

We can provide your organisation with a fixed price with unlimited numbers.

Please contact us or on 02 9674 4279 if you would like more information or would like to book a course.

AWPTI – Workplace training national wide and internationally as part of the International Workplace Management Institute (IWMI), we can assist you where ever you are.

Workplace investigations Sydney and through-out New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, the ACT and Tasmania.

Misconduct investigations, bullying investigations, harassment investigations & sexual harassment investigations, complaint investigations, grievance investigations, discrimination investigations