So you need to discipline an employee yet you're hardly sure where to start. Mostly, be careful. This will be treacherous terrain . . . but we've got a map for you.
Discipline in the workplace. It sounds almost like an oxymoron, doesn't it? After all, discipline is something used with children, right? And hopefully, you've got all adults working for you. So the notion of conducting a discipline session makes everyone feel uncomfortable - as though you are somehow overstepping your bounds.
That discomfort you're feeling can make you go easy on someone ("Oh, it more than likely won't crop up again so I'm not going to do anything about it") or go too far ("A buyer complained that she was on hold too long so I'm writing you up!")
Neither option can be ideal for you, your association or your employee. You do need to discipline an employee whose actions have crossed the line . . . however you need to accomplish it properly.
First things first: recognize what discipline actually means. It is a follow-up to coaching. You do it because you have already given corrective feedback and suggested ways to correct the problem -and the employee in question has failed to heed your advice. Discipline is a way of declaring, "That correction needs to occur. If it doesn't, there will be consequences." It will sound basic, yet the truth is it's easy to make mistakes in this arena which a) result in an ineffective session, after which nothing changes, b) strain your relationship with your employee, c) anger or upset him or her to the point of much worse performance (this, in turn, will lessen morale), and/or d) lead to legal action against you or your firm.
Unpleasant as it can be, you have to address employee infractions. Here's why.
The initial as well as most obvious reason can be simply that: You expect your employee to do the right thing. You would like him to stop being rude to patrons or missing major deadlines or showing up two hours late each Monday . . . whatever. (Yes, of course, the present rule-breaker may be a woman, but we are trying to steer clear of that confusing he/she/his/her conundrum. Please bear with us!)
Conduct a discipline session ideally and you increase the likelihood that your employee will cease this offending behavior and improve dramatically.
The other reason not to let things slide can be a bit more complicated. Suppose your employee is merely, well, a lost cause? Suppose you know in deep down that he's not going to ever develop into an intuitive, innovative "happy corporate citizen?"
That's all the more grounds to discipline him. Perfectly-structured, properly documented discipline sessions - with all your I's dotted and T's crossed - may be half of the battle of getting him out the door . . . with a clear conscience and tiny odds that a disgruntled employee will pursue litigation.
Conducting effective discipline sessions are both an art and a science. We'll teach you where you can compromise . . . and where you can't.
Basically, there are three forms of disciplinary action:
You can give a written warning
You can suspend an employee without pay for a designated span of time
You can dismiss the employee
A part of this "art" we mentioned above involves understanding which type of discipline session might be appropriate when. The other part involves determining what you can say throughout a session. You do have some leeway depending on the particulars of your employee and also his breach. Every case is different, every person is distinct, and most every workplace culture is unique . . . so it's hard to submit carved-in-stone rules.
However, some basic guidelines might be welcome, correct?
Not to worry. Dr. Joanne G. Sujansky, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional, CEO, as well as Founder of KEYGroup®) offers them. Her study "How to Discipline an Employee - Employee Discipline That Works," provides real-life examples of discipline cases and clearly pinpoints the components that determine what should be done - both type (which out of the four opportunities might be ideal and why) as well as tone (what to say in a session and how to say it).
Here are a few nagging issues Dr. Sujansky's report can answer:
Are there ever occasions when it is proper to permit an infraction to slide? If so, when?
What infractions call for immediate action - for example removal from the workplace and also, under more serious circumstances, immediate termination?
How do I proceed if I find out during the session that this employee is dealing with personal problems - such as alcoholism, drug abuse or domestic violence?
What if an employee breaks a "common sense" rule that seems obvious to me but is not covered in the employee handbook?
Am I truly justified in disciplining him? I've heard that discipline should be conducted in private to spare the employee's pride. But then I've also heard that a witness should always be there for legal reasons. Which is right?
Without a doubt, few employee discipline matters are in fact black and white. Dr. Sujansky addresses them head on:
The reason it's critically important to put everything in writing. (The report even supplies a "documentation template" you can use.)
That one phrase you should never say during a discipline session.
Three things never to put in writing.
What to do if an employee refuses to answer a question.
What to do if an employee asks to resign over a discipline session.
When to use the infamous "final caution" - and why it has to actually be final.
Of course, conducting a discipline session is no picnic; however, it may be executed respectfully as well as professionally. Order your copy of Dr. Sujanksy's book today. It could be "How to Discipline an Employee - Employee Discipline That Works" is your first step in turning around a valuable employee ...or else getting rid of some dead weight that's holding your company down.
Order your copy of How to Discipline an Employee – Employee Discipline that Works now!
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The Performance Indictator
The Performance Indicator™ is a DISC-type assessment that reveals an individual’s job performance and aspects of their personality that could impact their fit with their manager, coworkers and team. It is used primarily for motivating and coaching employees and resolving post-hire conflict and performance issues.
This assessment specifically measures an individual’s motivational intensity and behaviors related to productivity, quality of work, initiative, teamwork, problem solving, and adapting to change, as well as response to stress, frustration, and conflict. The output from this assessment serves as a “manager’s operating manual” for an employee, which helps managers better motivate, coach, and communicate with the employee. It also helps to predict and minimize conflict among co-workers, and provides crucial information for improving team selection and performance.
Cost $125.00 – Includes the assessment and a 30 minute debrief.
This assessment measures how well a candidate fits a specific job in your organization. The “job matching” feature in this assessment is unique, and it enables you to evaluate an individual relative to the qualities required to successfully perform a specific job. It is used throughout the employee life cycle for selection, on-boarding, managing and strategic workforce planning.
This assessment reveals consistent, in-depth, and objective insight into an individual’s thinking and reasoning style, relevant behavioral traits, occupational interests, and match to specific jobs in your organization. It helps your managers interview and select people who have the highest probability of being successful in a role, and provides practical recommendations for coaching them to maximum performance. It also gives your organization consistent language and metrics to support strategic workforce and succession planning, talent management and reorganization efforts.
Cost $275.00 – Includes the assessment and a 45 minute debrief.