Filing a Grievance - 6 Must Do Steps Before Filing

Six Must Do’s Before You File a Workplace Bullying Grievance with HR, In Addition to Documenting It


Catherine Mattice - Workplace Bullying Expert & Speaker

Catherine Mattice


Civility Partners
Workplace Bullying Expert
Social Media Influencer (@catmattice)

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Forensic Notes is excited to provide you the following informative article by workplace bullying expert Catherine Mattice.

Catherine understands the problems targets of bullying face because she lived the same horrible experiences. Since that experience, she has dedicated her life to helping others in similar situations.

Catherine started Civility Partners, which now works with some of the largest firms in America. Civility Partners assists organization to help “them in building systemic action plans to end workplace bullying and replace it with a positive workplace culture”.

Catherine is truly one of the leaders in this field.

Please be sure to share this article on Social media to help others that are thinking about filing a grievance. 

In preparing to report your situation with workplace bullying to managers or HR, it is important to first gather your thoughts. The more you are able to stay in control, and be clear and helpful, the more things will pan out in your favor. Below are six must-dos before you file a grievance.

#1: Seek confirmation that you are a good employee and high-performer.

If the bully hasn’t already called your performance into question through performance evaluations, he or she will once they find out you’ve talked to management. For this reason, collect data that supports that you are a high-performer. Talk to other employees you work with, perhaps a former supervisor in a different department, or even a few customers if you can ensure that others believe you are a strong performer and will tell your manager.

#2: Address poor performance evaluations.

The previous tip leads to an important suggestion for dealing with a manager who is a workplace bully. If the bully is your manager, and he or she did use a performance evaluation to bully you, it is important that you take certain steps in order to address this issue with your manager first before filing a grievance with the higher-ups.

Effective performance evaluations are positive and ongoing, provide constructive feedback, and offer specific goals for you to complete. If your performance evaluation doesn’t do that, try to meet with your manager to see if you can get more information. If the bullying manager won’t work with or coach you, then, when you file your grievance, you can share with HR that you really tried to work with this bullying manager by getting more information about what to do differently.

#3: Determine costs to the organization.

Management and HR speak the language of business: money. The saying “money talks” is no BS.

Therefore, presenting your case in factual, tangible terms will be to your benefit. Open up an excel sheet and start trying to figure out how much the bullying is costing the organization.

#4: Attempt to resolve the issue yourself.

Many experts will tell you that this is a bad move—that standing up for yourself will only make the bullying worse. In fact, research does seem to indicate that bullying gets worse when targets attempt to stand up for themselves. Bullies like it when you don’t stand up for yourself; it makes it easier on them if you don’t.

However, from a manager’s viewpoint—and if you are going to be successful in making a complaint—a target who has taken steps to resolve their own relational issues is more powerful and taken more seriously than one who has not.

#5: Get prepared for the conversation.

It is really important that you go into the conversation with pre-determined goals and outcomes. If you go in with specific action items in mind, you will be seen as an individual working toward making the workplace better. Spend some time deciding what the purpose of your talk is, and develop tangible, real goals that you are seeking. Ask yourself exactly what you want to accomplish with your complaint, and what you need to have happen in order to feel satisfied you were heard. What solutions can you offer to the HR manager?

In addition, get prepared to discuss the behaviors, not your feelings. You need this manager or HR representative to advocate for you, and the more you remain a reporter of facts instead of a target of someone’s bad behavior, the greater the likelihood that you will succeed.

#6: Self-reflect

There is a possibility your manager will not believe you when you tell him or her you are being bullied, so it’s important to self-reflect and get clarity on a few things before you decide to set up that meeting. Do a little soul searching and ask yourself whether you’re willing to go forth without the law on your side, since bullying is legal in most places. Think about what you’ll do if you aren’t heard - what’s your next step?

This article is an excerpt from the book BACK OFF! Your KickAss Guide to Ending Bullying at Work by EG Sebastian and Catherine Mattice, and was submitted by Catherine Mattice. Catherine Mattice is an HR Consultant who works with clients to end bullying by creating positive work environments. Her firm, Civility Partners, has worked with Fortune 500’s down to small businesses, and everything in between.