When we notice something wrong with our vehicle we want it fixed and we want it done now! Many times, however, the mechanic may have to run a diagnostic before the problem can in fact be revealed; it needs to be looked into further or investigated, if you will. The same is true for business; when we are aware of an issue our main priority is to remedy this and get everything back to normal as soon as possible. The problem is that just like anything else that doesn’t run smoothly we must first expose the difficulty. Once again using the analogy of the vehicle; when we initially hear a noise that is uncommon or unpleasant in our car, this may be enough evidence in many cases to present to the mechanic. In fact we may even find ourselves foolishly making an attempt to mimic that very sound in the waiting room in hopes that they will magically recognize our impression through their experience and come to an expeditious conclusion so we can once again be on our way.
In the case of an organization, that funky noise may come in the form of an employee complaint through an anonymous letter or phone call. The employee may even approach the human resources advisor and say something like “When I was walking through the parking lot the other day I smelt what seemed like marijuana.” As an employer what are you going to do with this new found information?
The first step is to expose this dilemma or at least make an attempt to prove that it does in fact exist. The question is how do you do that? Quite often, any fellow employee who has any knowledge of the issue; especially if the activity is of an illegal nature such as workplace theft or substance abuse will not be very co-operative for fear of future repercussions or perhaps their involvement may even become exposed.
The best case would be to put on a very convincing disguise, perhaps even a body suit, maybe even change your voice and go onto the floor in an attempt to blend in as a peer. Depending on the complexity and severity of the issue you may not immediately get the evidence you are looking for but within a few weeks and after building up your relationships you will certainly become much more aware of the true mood throughout the organization and who the real players are involved in the said issue. As the facts build up and the points and places of interest are exposed it then becomes a matter of collecting the evidence. There are many reasons you might want to become an ‘undercover boss’, but let’s face it – that would never work; the employees would have you pegged in mere minutes.
There is something even better than you going undercover yourself; what about using an experienced, well trained, licensed investigator. To get a true sense of what the issues are in your workplace, a third party objective investigator is certainly the best option. Not only does the investigator work at the location as an employee but they are continuously reporting back to the firm in order to create the most effective strategy on a daily basis. Quite often you may have an issue that causes concern but until the underlying causes are revealed and repaired the problem will remain.
After all does a flat tire fix itself?