June 11, 2018

101: Discipline at work

In a perfect world, all employees exhibit exceptional time management, judgment and diligence. But even if that were the case, definitions of those concepts can still vary greatly from cubicle to cubicle. Which means every workplace needs clear rules and guidelines. There will be times, though, when even those standards are breached and upper management needs to step in.

Consistency is crucial. Many workplace disciplinary process problems lie with the human resources manager. That is to say HR professionals can make the issue of employee discipline much, much more difficult on themselves (and the company) than it needs to be. Nothing must be left up to interpretation or not followed consistently. As NaturalHR.com states, "Every incident that requires a disciplinary process should tread the same path. Keep records of communication, follow company procedures and make absolutely no exceptions."

Warnings should be specific. Guidelines come into play on the subject of warnings, according to Entrepreneur.com. "Warnings must carry weight … or they won't be taken seriously; if a probationary warning is given, there should be systematic follow-through the next time serious disciplinary action is needed." Warnings need to be written and put in that employee's file, as well, and include a timeframe of the probationary period and exactly what is expected by way of improvement. Warnings should never be given in public, so as not to embarrass.

Remember to consider the employee's co-workers. They are, after all, writes Susan M. Heathfield at TheBalanceCareers.com, the ones affected most, picking up the slack for an employee being disciplined for issues like absenteeism or poor productivity. "Coworkers will appreciate any action you take to correct the problem," she writes. "You can tell coworkers that you've addressed the problem – nothing more … they need to know that their complaints were at least heeded."


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