Just like a ripple effect spreading round so also is an action that could be dire to the existence or reputation of an organization. If not nipped in the bud, it could spiral, and the damage control costly. This is the major reason an action which may have such negative effect as to the existence or reputation of an organization has to be reported solely in the interest of the company. Reporting misconduct via email should be done professionally, devoid of malicious interest and intent to malign the personality of any person(s) involved.
Any loyal employee has to make the interest of the company paramount. The intent behind reporting a colleague’s misconduct, if it does not pass the test of saving the company may be seen as colored with malice. Any suspicion regarding your intention for reporting a colleague could undermine what you want to achieve which is to save the company.
Also, there are situations whereby a colleague’s action is reported not only because we desire to save the company but we want to save ourselves. If an act of misconduct is not reported to the appropriate person(s), it can impact negatively on your job. Therefore, it is okay to report it. However, the manner in which we communicate this act of misconduct matters a lot.
Tips on How to Report a Colleague’s Misconduct via Email
- Avoid attacking the person you are reporting. The purpose of you writing an email is to report a misconduct that is verifiable not to dent a personality. Do not succumb to passing blame.
- Focus on the actions and not the personality. Simply state the facts which back up your allegation and do not color it with your personal opinion or assumptions. This way, you find it easier to avoid the use of scathing remarks
- Avoid irrelevant details which may be related to your colleague’s personal life but not in any way having a correlation to your formal complaint.
- Be professional. Except the misconduct affects you directly or your work, there may be no reason to express your emotion regarding the action.
- Let the subject line of your email show your intention to report the misconduct. Avoid insinuations and vague statements in the bid not to get into trouble. Let your email be clear. Explain the nature of the misconduct in your subject line. For example, “The Usage of Hard Drugs During Working Hours”
- Write details of the misconduct providing your evidence with a date at a time if possible (especially if your firm has CCTV camera installed). State other witnesses who may corroborate your allegation.
- Documenting your formal complaint for future references should be done. This is in the case of unforeseen circumstances that may involve a lawsuit.
- Send a copy of your email to all appropriate person(s) that should be notified.
There are different categories of misconduct. Some may be related to impairment which has to do with those actions that may weaken an employee’s ability to make the right judgment. It may be the usage of drugs or alcohol abuse which the person is concealing. These may have an adverse effect on the company’s reputation, relationship with other co-workers, and productivity in the long run. Other categories of misconduct may involve incompetence, and cases pertaining to ethics.
There are certain levels of misconduct that you may have to iron out with your colleague instead of reporting. These may be those ones that affect your working relationship with them or as a team. Any act of misconduct that may directly jeopardize the integrity or existence of the company should be duly reported to the appropriate person(s). Any action that may backfire and put your job on the line should be notified as well.
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Other Notifiable Misconducts
- Matters related to the breach of safety guidelines put in place at work or in a factory setting should be reported. Any act that may put others at risk should not be ignored.
- Issues related to environmental risk may cause the company to go through litigations. These could be avoided if measures are taken early to report any activities that put the environment at risk while the company is carrying out its normal processes.
- Criminal acts which may be committed while working on behalf of the firm, or having a direct impact on the company should be reported.
- Other issues that pertain to a breach of legal obligation or agreement are acts of misconduct that could cause the company to be entangled in lawsuits and may jeopardize its existence.
- A violation of the company’s policies. There are heavy matters in the policies of an organization. Violation of these may harm the firm.
- An act of misconduct whereby the work climate is affected, hence having a direct impact on the productivity of the company in the long run. This may be a case of sexual harassment, lack of teamwork due to the colleague’s inability to get along with other team members thereby having a negative effect on the productivity of the group and that of the firm at large.
- You may have to report any attempt to cover up any misconduct as stated above. This should be seen as an intentional action to harm the firm.
Reporting misconduct would be viewed from another perspective by the person involved in the action. It could be seen as an act of betrayal, your loyalty which lies first with the company should be considered crucial. You have a professional obligation to file a formal complaint, reporting such act. From an ethical and moral point of view, communicating with the right authority such misconduct will benefit the organization, the employees working there and those they provide services to. While you may be seen as a tattletale, you would be averting any future problem the company might face as a result of the employee’s action. Hence, helping many people attached to your organization in the process.
There are certain factors you need to be aware of before writing an email regarding a colleague’s wrongdoing.
- Do you have evidence to back up your claim? If not, this would be considered as an unverifiable accusation. Ensure to attach your documented evidence to your email. It gives your employer or human resources manager something to work with when investigating the matter.
- Your motive, if not genuine, would color every aspect of your communication and cast you in a bad light.
- You should be prepared for any event that subsequently follows your allegations. An investigation may be carried out into the matter you have reported and other actions follow. You may have to be ready to defend your allegations with not just documented evidence but to face a panel to testify when an investigation is being carried out.
Sample Email 1: How to Report a Colleague’s Misconduct via Email
Dear Mrs Brown,
I will like to bring your attention to an illegal and unethical act carried out on behalf of the company on the 23 May 2017. Based on the court order dated 26 February 2001, this prestigious firm was directed to discontinue the dumping of our chemical waste materials in a manner that may be hazardous to the environment. Consequently, there were guidelines set up on how to dispose of these waste materials which are deemed toxic to the human health. These guidelines were violated on the date mentioned above.
On the said date, the team involved with the disposal of the chemical waste materials, headed by Mr. Rash Smith left the factory premises with an amount of waste material exceeding the stipulated quantity required to be generated after production.
Also, there were some lapses in the process of disposal which were observed. Some of the containers were not labeled and other safety precautions were blatantly disregarded.
It would be in the interest of the company if these actions were investigated and measures put in place to correct them.
Tracy C. Briggs
In the above email sample, the focus is on the act of misconduct committed and not on the person(s) involved. There is no attack on any personality. Note the difference between the sentences. Some of the containers were not labeled and other safety precaution disregarded. “Some of the containers were not labeled and other safety precautions were blatantly disregarded”. The use of the adverb “blatantly” may have subtly cast those involved in the bad light and may be an attack on their persons. It is important to state only facts that are verifiable. The date this misconduct was carried out could serve as your evidence.
Sample Email 2: How to Report a Colleague’s Misconduct via Email
I deem it a professional obligation to inform you of the use of hard drugs during working hours within the premises of the company. This action, which may harm the reputation of the company has been ongoing for a while now. On two different occasions, I have found myself witnessing the use of illicit drugs by Miss Julie Adams in the ladies room. I believe every employee is aware of the company’s policy against the use of hard drugs. This is the reason I considered the fact that it should be brought to your notice.
Miss Adams is an employee in the marketing department. Her role as a worker in the firm is sensitive because she has direct contact with a number of clients. Besides, her health and relationship with co-workers will be affected by the use of these drugs.
It would be in the interest of the company to investigate this matter. It would not only save the organization but also help Miss Adams to get needed help.
Edited by Kelechi Duru
Deciding the right phrase to handle different situations can be very tasking. As a correspondent, you are directly involved in critical day-to-day interactions via email. This makes your ability to craft good email messages, using the perfect phrases and clauses, tangential to your business success.
There is a book by Meryl Runion that will help you to a great extent:
Perfect Phrases for Office Professionals: Hundreds of ready-to-use phrases for getting respect, recognition, and results in today’s workplace
Overall, this book will greatly improve your communication skills. It will also help you easily clarify assignments with your manager or projects with your clients as well as guide you in handling the inevitable complaints that sometimes follow sales of products or services.