When it comes right down to it, the progressive discipline process can be incredibly difficult. Chances are if you manage employees, you’ve had to, at one time or another, discipline an employee for a work related infraction.
We’ve outlined a comprehensive action plan that you can follow when you’re required to attend a disciplinary hearing. Being prepared is the key to both a successful disciplinary hearing and maintaining the integrity of the employee-employer relationship.
Do Your Research
Hopefully, you’ve kept a record of the progressive discipline action in the employee’s folder. If you do, then make sure that you’ve taken copies of previous reports or notes that you have taken. This information will help to facilitate the disciplinary hearing and solidify your position should the employee choose to refute the evidence.
Keep A Cool Head
It is imperative that when you are providing the disciplinary action form to the employee that you maintain your emotions. The employee might be emotionally vacant or could have an intense reaction but regardless, you need to keep a cool head. Stick to the facts and do not allow yourself to go on a tangent. You need to explain what methods have been used to remedy the situation in the past before it got to this point.
There are a number of online resources that have disciplinary action forms available. SmartBiz.com has one that is particularly good. When looking for a disciplinary form, looking for a form that complies with progressive discipline is the best bet.
Progressive discipline requires that when an issue comes up it first be communicated informally to the employee verbally. The conversation will still need to be documented, but should be low-key and friendly.
The second infraction (regardless of whether or not it is for the same problem) will need to be a written warning, with coaching provided as well as the company policy that the employee is alleged to have broken. In this meeting, the previous attempt to remedy the situation orally will need to be brought forth. It is imperative that you communicate to the employee that any further infractions may lead to further disciplinary action, up to an including termination of their employment.
Should the end result eventually be termination, a disciplinary action form is a clear and concise way of outlining the necessary steps that were taken, that the employee was well informed of the potential consequences stemming from their actions and that as an employer, that every resource was used in an effort to deter the undesirable behavior.
Remember, the purpose of a disciplinary hearing is to correct the action, not to create friction between an employee and management. Remain professional and courteous at all times and make sure that you listen. You never know when improper behavior could be a side effect of a serious personal crisis or trouble with a colleague. Making sure that you understand the root of the problem will help you better understand how to correct it.