I have a pair of direct reports that can be rather nasty to my other direct reports. I've been working with them to improve for about a year through the use of 03s, feedback, and some coaching. I've started formal discipline with both of them, and one has had a 3 day suspension and the other received a letter of counsel.
So much of what they do is difficult to record and present to HR in such a way that a clear case can be made. It isn't what is said, it is the way it is said. It'd be easy to record obvious things (such as face turned read, screaming, giving the bird, etc.), but it is so subtle. For example, B and L recently asked S about her status on a project in the office. S has been overwhelmed with two big deadlines, so the project they had asked about was a little behind but nothing that would concern me. B & L both then said, in front of J & V (S's co-workers), comments regarding a spreadsheet related to the project not being up-to-date along with a few other snarky comments related to the project.
S, J, and V all interpreted B and L's conversation as a dig on S. S stated to me she felt attacked. I wasn't present so I didn't directly witness it, but I asked S, J, and V if there were raised voices, furled faces, etc., etc., anything concrete that I could document and report to use to take to HR as further evidence that the previous formal discipline had been ineffective for resolving the negative behaviors regarding poor office communications and conduct unbecoming because I believe - actually, I KNOW - further disciplinary steps are going to be necessary.
But B and L seem to be really good at subtle digs that are difficult to formally discipline because if HR reads the words that were said on a black and white page, they don't seem all that bad. But I know from experience if you are THERE for the event these communications from B and L are undoubtedly meant to attack and make the other person (S in this case) feel like they aren't doing their job. B and L regularly do these types of things that damage the relationships in the office and the ability of the team to be effective.
How can I record and report these types of behaviors in a way that HR will feel comfortable taking to the next step? So that when these people appeal the discipline (because they will), the people hearing the appeal will be able to read what happened and say "no, this discipline is totally justified."? Is there some sort of dictionary of bad behaviors and childish behavior that I could reference when crafting my recommendations to HR?