Author's Name: Mark Schultz
Date: Mon 04 Apr 2016

Grievance & whistle-blower policies - are your's up to date?

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Grievance and whistle-blower policies are important components of the governance excellence model. Stakeholders, in particular staff and volunteers, need to be both aware of the existence of such policies and have confidence that the organisation will uphold both the intent and the spirit of the documents.

Whilst it is every board’s wish to not have to deal with a stakeholder grievance or a situation that has arisen as a result of a whistle- blower, it is best practice in governance to be prepared for such situations arising and have in place policies and procedures to appropriately deal with the circumstances. Here are a few useful tips to provide some leadership and direction in this area:

Polices & procedures: develop and document in consultation with a cross section of management and staff; this will provide an opportunity to demonstrate that the board is serious about these policies and gain ownership of the outcome from the team as well;

Communication: ensure all staff understands the content and intent of the policies, including how to go about initiating action via the procedures; this process also establishes expectations on both the board and the staff;

Actions: when a situation arise, take swift and concise action; this will be the ultimate test of the leadership, culture and management of the organisation; do not “ shoot the messenger” but also ensure that the board makes every endeavour to understand the situation before taking action to resolve the matter at hand;

Board/CEO: not excluded from the process because of their positions in the hierarchy; the Policy should also include procedures to address grievances against the leaders of the organisation and must not be shied away from under any circumstances.

How a board deals with stakeholder grievances or a whistle-blower will either enhance its reputation as leaders of the organisation or negatively impact on morale, organisation perception and performance – the choice is yours to make and manage.

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