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!