Let’s face it…no one wants to be the bad guy. I have never met anyone who enjoyed being responsible for
disciplinary actions, whether as a parent or supervisor. However, it is one of those necessary evils, if you want to have a successful operation.
The most important factor to consider when dealing with discipline is to strive for consistency. If you are not upholding your own policies with reasonableness and fairness, you will not only decrease morale and lose the trust of your employees, you may also find yourself involved in a hearing or lawsuit. As always, careful documentation is vitally important in these proceedings.
– Be sure that you know the rules. Refer to your policy and the employee’s file before issuing any disciplinary notice. No one expects you to have it memorized word for word.
– Make sure you have notified employees about your progressive disciplinary policy and that they understand and acknowledge it in writing.
– Before taking serious disciplinary action, investigate thoroughly to make sure you have all the facts and/or seek advice from a Certified HR Professional (with a PHR or SPHR designation.)
– Put the warning in writing and ask the employee to sign it.
– Determine whether the employee might have a claim of discrimination or whether you might appear to be discriminating.
– Determine whether the employee has recently filed any type of complaint against the organization or exercised some other right. Could your discipline be viewed as retaliation?
– Always conduct disciplinary actions in private, preferably with a witness (witness should be someone with authority, such as a manager or supervisor…not a general co-worker.)
– Maintain dignity and respect. Do not shout, cry or verbally attack an employee.
– Document your actions while events are still fresh in your mind.
– Focus on job requirements and policies, not on an individual’s personality. (Example: You are late, rather than: You are lazy.)