Progressive discipline is a subject that does seem ominous and threatening - quite honestly. But disciplining an employee is a part of management. At some point in your career you will be faced with the unenviable task of delivering discipline to an employee due to poor performance or behavioral concerns.
I often get asked about the best ways to handle this so I am glad you took a moment to check this post out. I will answer a few questions you might have and take away some of the guess work.
If you don't know, the bulk of my Human Resources (HR) experience is Employee Relations. I assist other HR professionals and business leaders with constructing documentation to support their progressive discipline process - mainly within the corporate work-space.
So what is 'Progressive Discipline"? Let’s go over the standard progression. Now, I am not going to get in the number of verbals or written warnings that should be given before moving on to the next level, but I promise to go over the details in another installment. The standard guide, which I feel is a good outline for progressive discipline, is as follows:
Verbal Discussion - You have a very specific conversation with the employee privately regarding the concern. Usually, this one-on-one conversation does the trick. Although it was just a verbal discussion, you still have documentation that you had the conversation for later reference.
Written Warning - This is a documented conversation that requires some specifics. Make sure the concern is precise and written in a clear manner. State the date of the incidents or incident that took place; give a brief description of the performance concern or behavioral issue, and then state any violation of the job description or code of conduct that occurred. List what needs to be corrected and time frame of which the correction should take place.
Final Warning - So you have talked with the employee and documented the situation. You are not willing to give up, so you move to the final warning. This is documented as well with severe consequences. If you choose to implement a final warning, then it has to be just that. If the employee does not adhere to the final warning, then you do not write another final warning, you move to termination.
Termination - A termination is the last resort, and must be something that is entered into carefully and with input from Human Resources, which is a must have. The other department to consider is Legal. Depending on the situation you would want to make sure you have done all you can. When administering a termination, you want to state the previous discussions and warnings. You want to read the termination documentation because it details the reason(s) for the termination.
It is not good practice to terminate someone without documentation. Don't get me wrong. Some instances are so egregious that you have no choice, but there is something else to consider. You can always suspend an employee with pay until you get the documentation and all the facts.
I hope this helps! In Part 2, I will explain some more important facts regarding each progressive discipline.
Until next time, Stay Moxie!
There are times when we will feel disrespected by our staff. The rotten odor quickly rises to your nostrils and the stench of disrespectful behavior cannot be tolerated any longer. It’s a bit surprising when it happens because they are supposedly our “team.” We have hand-picked these employees to work with and mentor. That’s why we are shocked to realize that one bad apple does spoil the whole bunch.
What do you do? There are few ways to chop this tree. Before you begin chopping, ask yourself if you have caused this by your own actions.
If you answer yes to one or all of these questions, you are not alone, but just know things will have to change.
Many employees can handle interactions with their supervisor. However, some will not be able to handle these reinforcements. They will be the employees craving the most attention from you. The minute you try and keep it professional, they begin to get needy and upset because they feel that the relationship adds to their work environment. Despite the tension that will arise, it has to be done.
After they have said all that they feel needs to be said, go over their concerns, but reiterate your expectations so that the employee leaves the meeting understanding your concerns.
Next, you will experience growing pains. The employee is not going to like the new you. Though, they talked about how casual you are with them and how you were not a “real supervisor,” they actually prefer the old you. It gave them something to gripe about.
Now that you have taken away those issues that clouded the supervisor-employee line of demarcation, they have to make a decision to whether or not they will adjust, or leave. Sometimes a resignation is a necessary tool. If they stay, encourage the positive changes they are making. This won’t happen all at once, so be patient.
Last is consistency. Stay committed to your new found professional posture with your staff. There are times you are going to want to go in and talk way too much about a lot of things, but refrain. Maintain the standard, and the standard will soon become the norm. Realize, you are the boss and you have a responsibility to yourself and your organization to develop and manage the talent assigned to you.