When you have a mistake-prone employee, it’s natural to wonder how you can help them — and it’s also normal to wonder at what point you need to take more serious corrective action. Not only do these employees cost your business through poor productivity, they can also impact morale, as other employees may become annoyed at the situation. By understanding how to manage employees who make frequent mistakes, you can figure out the right course of action and keep your business on track.
How to Decide Whether to Take Action
Not all mistakes are created equal. Consider the severity of an employee’s mistakes and how long they’ve been working for you before you discipline them.
While there’s nothing wrong with bringing up minor mistakes that don’t have much of an impact on your business, if you do this all the time, employees can feel like you’re micromanaging them. You may want to provide some leeway if the mistakes don’t raise serious concerns, especially with newer employees who are still learning the ropes. Everyone makes some mistakes as they learn, and constant corrections can stifle their growth.
What to Do with a Mistake-Prone Employee
Options available for an employee who keeps making mistakes include:
- Scheduling a performance review
- Setting up additional employee training
- Asking a more experienced employee to mentor them
- Demoting an employee to a role that better fits their skill set
- Terminating the employee
Short of an informal chat or message, a performance review is easiest. Whenever you’re disciplining an employee, make sure you do it privately. Don’t simply tell them what they did wrong, but also explain how they could have better handled the situation.
If you think the employee just needs a helping hand, extra training or a mentor could be just what’s needed. Sometimes a great employee takes a bit longer to catch on or responds better to a different training approach.
While demotion isn’t particularly pleasant, it can work well if you present it the right way and emphasize that you believe a different position is a better for the employee. Termination is obviously the nuclear option, but it can unfortunately be necessary in certain situations.
Give a Written Warning Before Termination
As a rule, you should always give at least one written warning before you terminate an employee. Make sure you document any mistakes they made. If you don’t, you run a greater risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Some companies go with a three strikes approach. Depending on the company, the first two strikes could both be written warnings, or the first strike could be a verbal warning and the second a written warning, leading up to the final strike, which is termination. Since discipline isn’t always black and white and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, you should go with the system you feel is right for your company.
Only you can know how many chances to give an employee. As employee turnover is costly, do all you can to help the employee while being willing to demote them or let them go if their problems prove to be too detrimental to your business.