As unpleasant as it may be, disciplining employees comes with the territory when you run a business. To maintain a positive employee relationship and improve performance, it’s important to have an effective disciplinary process. Follow these tips to handle everything from the initial meeting to setting up probationary periods.
Meeting With an Employee
The best time to meet with an employee is typically as soon as possible. Waiting around makes the events leading to discipline less fresh in everyone’s minds, creating more room for disagreement. If you can, meetings around the middle of the day tend to be best. Negative feedback in the morning can affect employees for the rest of the day, and by the end of the day, your employees may be tired mentally and ready to go home. Be specific to provide effective feedback. Let employees know exactly what they have done wrong and include an example. Avoid any subjective criticisms, and stick to the facts. Rather than telling employees that they are not putting in enough effort, you can point out lower productivity numbers. Provide suggestions for improvement and maintain an optimistic demeanor during the conversation to keep the focus on positive outcomes.
Providing Additional Training
If the employee has a performance issue, then more training can be helpful. Use your initial meeting with the employee as an opportunity to figure out the cause of the problem. After you hire your employees, it’s your job to put those employees in a position to succeed, and that means providing enough training employees to feel comfortable in their assigned roles. Consider other factors that could be contributing to poor performance. Is it a communication issue between employees? Are you expecting employees to perform tasks outside the scope of their original positions? When you have an employee who is working hard but not achieving success, you can often turn things around with the right support.
When you discipline an employee, record the disciplinary action you took and the reason you took that action in the employee’s file. For an initial meeting, you can simply log the meeting and what it was about. If you need to meet with the employee again, you may want to provide a written warning and include a copy of that in the file. This helps you keep track of disciplinary actions, and more importantly, it provides a paper trail of those actions in case you need to let the employee go. That paper trail could be a lifesaver in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
If you give an employee two warnings and there is no improvement in performance, then it’s time to provide a final probationary warning. Establish a time frame for the probation, and make it clear that any further issues during that time frame could result in dismissal. Setting up a disciplinary process allows you to determine the reason for employee issues and correct them promptly, by effectively communicating problems and providing positive outcome-oriented feedback and support. Make sure you keep records throughout the process to protect your business if further action becomes necessary.