Disciplinary action: Take a 'no surprises' approach
Under most circumstances, you need to address performance or behavior problems before they reach the crisis stage.
You should never terminate an employee without warning unless he or she commits an actual crime. Under most circumstances, you need to address performance or behavior problems before they reach the crisis stage. Follow this procedure:
• Meet with the employee. Schedule a private meeting to discuss the issue. Tell the employee what to prepare for so he or she doesn’t feel ambushed.
• Describe the problem objectively. Explain why the person’s behavior or performance is unacceptable. Cite examples that you’ve personally observed or have solid evidence of. Back up your position by referring to previous talks and to the employee manual regarding workplace standards.
• Set verifiable performance goals. You can’t just tell the employee to “shape up.” Spell out exactly what kind of improvement is needed and how you’ll track it. Establish a firm deadline so the process doesn’t drag out endlessly.
• Listen to the response. Your employee may have an explanation for his or her behavior. Even though it may not affect the facts of the case or your need to see some improvement, make a point of listening attentively to his or her point of view. Employees respond better to discipline, even when you don’t change your mind, if they believe they’ve had a fair hearing.
• Clarify the consequences. Let the employee know what can happen if his or her performance doesn’t improve promptly. Also, remind employees of the benefits of doing a good job. Either way, the employee should have a clear idea of what can happen next so any further action you take doesn’t come as a surprise.
—Adapted from the Business Performance website
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