Writing someone up is almost as fun as the dentist asking me whether or not I floss. They don’t like asking, I don’t like answering and my husband just sits there with an embarrassed look on his face. Disciplinary action is sometimes necessary. I agree. But there are ways to make it (while not roller derby with a corn dog FUN, at least C-SPAN) bearable:
-Advocacy- I believe that in all cases where someone is being reprimanded, that the HR or talent pro in the room should be not only a communication facilitator (think Dr. Phil but in almost all cases better looking and less annoying) for the supervisor but also an advocate and observer for the employee. Seems like a no-brainer but you would be surprised how many companies skip this step.
-Preparation– A supervisor should have to explain his reasons for writing up an employee and justify any further action. This gives the talent pro time to bring up the following:
-Was this a mistake or an intentional violation?
-Was this related to any inadequacy in management (substandard training, lack of oversight, unclear directives)?
-Is this in line with our disciplinary policy? Have others been reprimanded in the same manner for the same violation?
-What is the action plan to keep this from happening again? (if the manager cannot answer this, there is a BIG FAT problem)
-Privacy– During the prep time, tell the supervisor that you will be taking a few minutes after he/she leaves to ensure that the employee can tell their side of the story without and fear of reprisal. (No one wants to explain how it was actually their stupid boss who was supposed to fax the items out while staring at the person who signs off on their performance review.) I keep these notes in an informal (read: for my eyes only) part of the file with the violation action items, so that I can refer back to them later.
-Education– A disciplinary meeting should conclude with both the employee and the supervisor coming away with something they can do better. Yes, they can always be doing something better. If there are “to-do’s” that the manager and the employee need to follow up on, make them both accountable. Ensure that a process is put in place to allow for success (sis-boom-bah!).
Other great ideas:
-Ask the employee what their core role is. Sometimes disciplinary forms are so garbled with corp speak that employees aren’t even sure what they are signing.
-Get specifics as far as metrics. (for example, if they are assigned 10 cases per day and mess up on one in a three month period, perhaps that’s not a bad average)
-Ensure they understand the reasons behind the write up, even if they are upset.
Have tissues handy.
Maren Hogan is a millennial living the dream in Omaha, Nebraska. When she’s not plotting the downfall of Gen Xer’s like me, she’s doing marketing and development for an IT recruiting and outsourcing firm called HCI. When she’s not at HCI, she’s blogging at Big O Recruiting and becoming addicted to Twitter…