No manager or business owner enjoys having to discipline an employee. It probably is one of the more unpleasant aspects of a managerial position. Nevertheless, it is essential. An effective disciplinary policy is an invaluable workplace tool that every business should have in place.
A good disciplinary policy provides clear guidelines for employee behavior, can boost the employee morale among good workers, and protect you against employee lawsuits.
When writing your policy, it should provide employees with a clear understanding of what the consequences of poor behavior are without locking yourself into any particular set course of action. For example, you want to have a policy of progressive discipline (first offense gets a verbal warning, second offense gets a written warning, etc.) but want to also reserve the right to immediately fire an employee who crosses the line by acting badly, stealing, or doing drugs.
If an employee does break the rules, you need to take action. Otherwise, your policies are not worth the paper they are printed on, and you could open yourself to potential future litigation by other employees who you may have to discipline for breaking those same rules.
When disciplining an employee:
1. Have a private one-on-one meeting.
2. Be honest and precise as to what the problem is, what steps the employee must take to fix it, and what will happen if they do not.
3. Be respectful and provide your employee with an opportunity to be heard or to voice their concerns. Let them know you want them to improve and will do what you can to help them perform their job well.
4. Write it down. Document. Document. Document. Place the record in the employee’s personnel file. If it’s a written warning, give the employee a copy of the warning. Ask the employee to sign off on it to acknowledge its receipt. If they choose not to, make a note and place in their file.
5. Follow up. If you told the employee that they needed to improve by a certain date, and then make sure you follow up on that date.