5 steps to progressive discipline—not punishment
: few of us mull these two words over and conjure up sunny thoughts. The reason is obvious enough: most of us believe discipline to be synonymous with punitive measures, power and compliance
—so it makes sense that the word would straighten our spines. We’d like to help change that by talking a bit about progressive discipline.
Unlike its antiquated predecessor, progressive discipline
is, as author Paul Falcone
puts it, simply “a means of communicating problem issues directly
, and in a timely way
” so that employees can improve—not fail. 5 steps to progressive discipline—not punishment
Before anything, employees must understand your expectations
and the consequences
of failing to meet them. We should also mention that a key element in discipline and motivation is always laying out a clear plan for the employee.
The plan should include a setoff, timelines/targets and updated feedback so the employee is aware of the expected behaviours and how the behaviours are to be corrected.
Employees deserve a predictable response
when they violate a company rule. Problems cannot be corrected when discipline appears to be arbitrary and inconsistent, so follow the policy and procedure manual
and follow it every time
—and with every employee
. Do not, for example, follow the procedure manual for one employee and improvise or ignore it with another who committed a similar offense.
There’s a caveat to what we said in number two.
Yes, you must be consistent. Yes, you must also follow the company’s policy and procedure manual and stick to the three-step corrective process (issuing a verbal, written and final warning). But don’t forget that the step system outlined in most organizations’ procedure manual typically addresses performance and attendance, but not conduct.
Misconduct like theft, embezzlement, direct insubordination and inappropriate displays of anger rarely require the three-step corrective process. 4.
Due process means that you not only respect, but encourage communication. Always allow the employee the opportunity to respond to the violation. Approach this meeting as a conversation—not an interrogation. 5.
Allow the employee a reasonable amount of time to improve. There are three reasons for this: First, because you sincerely want your employee to get better; second, because you know that change takes time; third, because if you don’t give the employee adequate time to change, it will appear as though you’ve intentionally set the employee up to fail.