Often it can be easy to assume that the person raising a grievance is just being difficult. Well, that’s often not a bad assumption, but it’s not a good starting place. If there’s someone or something which is genuinely causing a problem in the organisation, it’s better that it’s found and dealt with. In that case the person raising a grievance has done you a favour (even if it doesn’t feel like it when it lands on your desk on a Friday afternoon).
Sometimes experience tells you the situation is terminal…. The individual has gone off sick with stress, they’ve instructed a solicitor and this is only going one way. You need to think ahead – how will this grievance response read to a tribunal judge and write it accordingly. Try to win favour with the outcome letter.
And winning favour of course doesn’t just mean upholding every grievance (naturally), but give what you can and what you need to. Think tactically where necessary and consider the consequences of the concession you are making.
Often the person raising the grievance will have a solution in mind which is just not possible (like firing the rest of their team). Think as creatively as possible – for example, would a change in reporting line make a difference? Or a change in location? Whatever the solution is, if you’re making a change to something that affects them or their role always give them the option before implementing it.
Be careful not to treat the individual detrimentally because of the grievance. If the individual has raised an issue of discriminatory treatment in their grievance and you treat them less favourably because of the grievance (even if you would have treated them the same if the grievance didn’t contain the discriminatory treatment) you’re looking at a possible victimisation claim. Also consider if there’s anything in the grievance which could amount to whistle-blowing and proceed with similar caution if there is.