According to Hollywood, the most difficult part of an investigation is getting the suspect to confess. In real life, a certified forensic interviewer will tell you the hardest part is really building the trust necessary to encourage witnesses and victims to truthfully share their experiences.
Certified forensic interviewers (CFIs) are investigators who have proven their expertise by achieving the highest available designation in their field. As most of these investigators have experienced time and time again, many witnesses and victims feel enormous amounts of stress during interviews. They are worried they could be unfairly judged by their interviewer or face consequences if the suspect learns what they shared.
Employees often behave similarly during times of crisis. When doubt creeps in, employees tend to close ranks, raise their defenses, reduce the number of people they trust, and focus on protecting themselves.
In a 2016 Gallup survey, only 34 percent of employees considered themselves to be fully engaged at work. This can be interpreted to mean that, when a crisis arises, 67 percent of your employees are not prepared to commit themselves to the shared sacrifice required to resolve the crisis. Worse still, disengagement is only likely to increase as a crisis drags on.
Like CFIs in the middle of a difficult investigation, business leaders navigating a crisis have to focus on building employee trust if they hope to reach a resolution. Luckily for business leaders, the tactics and strategies CFIs use in the interview room directly apply to resolving crisis situations.
Embrace the Information You Do Have
Both leaders navigating crisis situations and CFIs must embrace the fact that they will almost never have all of the information they need to create foolproof strategies and find perfect solutions. By the time a leader or CFI arrives on the scene, the situation may already be wildly screwed up and out of their control. Most of the people they speak with will have more motivation to distrust them than to trust them.
Achieving success in these scenarios requires leaders to leverage what little information they do have. One approach leaders can take is to share with employees any facts they already know. This approach becomes more effective when leaders are able to reference independent experts who can corroborate their information. An equally effective approach is for leaders to admit they don’t have all the necessary information. Then, they can outline the process they are implementing to acquire what they are missing, the benchmarks they are using to validate new information, and the potential actions they will take once they have acquired new intelligence. Focusing on the process provides employees with specific information they can rely on moving forward. Read more here…