Not many managers enjoy the prospect of calling an employee into a disciplinary meeting to dish out reprimands. But if you look at disciplinary meetings as opportunities to provide goal-focused feedback instead of punishment, you can turn the disciplinary process into a positive tool for employee growth.
How is that possible? It starts with making sure you have a clearly defined code of employee conduct, scheduling regular performance reviews and documenting all disciplinary actions. By level-setting expectations and being consistent with your policies, you are in a much better position to handle employee disciplinary meetings in a positive way.
If handled correctly, an employee disciplinary meeting can turn a negative situation into positive progress toward achieving measurable goals.
If an employee has violated one of your company policies or displayed conduct that isn’t acceptable for your workplace, you need to take immediate steps to make your position known. Don’t ignore behavior that violates your written policies and hope it will go away. Doing that could set you up for problems later (an employee could claim he or she didn’t know the behavior was a problem, or other employees could see your lack of response as biased).
Instead, make it a policy to immediately issue verbal warnings to employees about any conduct that is a problem. Bring the employee into a private room, state what policy was broken or why the performance is unacceptable, discuss what changes you want to see happen, and provide a timeframe. Ask the employee for suggestions about how he or she can improve or correct the situation. Keep your tone professional, on topic and avoid bringing up other issues. Keep a record of your verbal warning in the employee’s file.
If an employee’s behavior or performance doesn’t improve after one or more verbal warnings, it may be time to issue a written warning and call the employee into a disciplinary meeting.
As part of a progressive discipline approach, a disciplinary meeting provides an opportunity to engage in a two-way discussion about performance issues that may hinder the employee’s continued value to your company. Such a meeting may be the first step in creating a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), which will outline in writing specific actions the employee needs to take to correct any problems and achieve measurable goals.
Consider these steps for handling a disciplinary meeting:
Make sure your disciplinary meeting stays on track and is productive rather than inflammatory, both for your employee’s well-being and your businesses’. Keep these best practices in mind:
Employee performance evaluations should be a regular part of managing a progressive discipline process. Use interim evaluations to correct behavior, motivate employees, and set goals. Most employers conduct written performance reviews annually or semi-annually for all employees. However, you might consider unscheduled reviews when changes in an employee’s performance or duties happen.
Regular reviews are useful to help groom and encourage employees (through coaching and training) better performance or behavior. Documenting behavior (good and bad) and productivity over time gives you specifics to discuss in a review.
Keeping an accurate record of all employee discipline issues, goals for improvement, deadlines and checkpoints is important for holding successful employee disciplinary meetings and for managing a progressive discipline process. The Progressive Discipline app can help you document, maintain, and organize relevant information in the process.
For successful employee disciplinary meetings:
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