Are You Guilty of Just “Hoping It Goes Away” When Dealing with Employee Discipline Issues?
Disciplining employees is not something most managers look forward to doing. The ability to successfully handle employee discipline in a timely and professional manner, however, is crucial for any business. Maintaining an “I hope this goes away” approach may not be the best strategy, so how can you prepare yourself and better handle issues in this area? Below are four key ways to address issues of employee discipline:
• Set up clear-cut expectations from the beginning. Provide Position Overviews or Job Descriptions that are signed off on by your staff. When employees know their roles as well as what exactly is (and is not) expected of them, it becomes easier for them to perform well and to succeed. In addition, it’s also easier for you to judge when expectations are not being met, and to use the guidelines as a reminder.
• Pay attention to first-time infractions, but don’t obsess over them. People make mistakes. Things happen. Lots of times people know they’ve done wrong, and can self-correct or benefit from sympathetic, yet helpful, advice. If the mistake is big or you know it requires immediate attention, step in privately and acknowledge the error. Cool off so you can be objective, and then ask questions. What actually happened? What led to this decision? What does the employee think can be done to avoid this result in the future? Giving the employee input and the opportunity to own and address his or her mistake can often get you further than simply yelling or punishing.
Keep in mind that any infraction, whether a first time infraction or a final discipline, SHOULD be documented. Even if an employee is verbally counseled, a recap of the conversation that transpired should be documented. It is essential to create and keep a good record of what steps have been taken in the event that the information needs to be accessed in the future.