Great employers always establish standards and expectations for their employees. Typically, these fall into two general categories: work rules and behaviors.
Work rules are things like policies, procedures and protocols. Behavioral standards are things like being respectful, using professional language, having a positive attitude.
Usually, some form of performance management is used to support employees before problems arise. Your goal for performance management is to manage how well employees are meeting job expectations and adhering to established standards and policies.
Sounds boring, right? Bear with me. When performance management tools, such as coaching and counseling don’t work, or when employees willfully violate work rules or behavioral standards, then it’s time to elevate your game.
Enter the world-famous, Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), and the most feared, Disciplinary Action Form. How and when to use an effective PIP is a story for another time. Nonetheless, I’d suggest getting help from a Pro who has experience in implementing PIPs.
Most performance issues associated with work rules or policy violations are pretty easy to handle using a well-written discipline policy. But many managers struggle with disciplining behavior issues.
I believe in treating employees like people. The relationship you build with them is important. They are valuable members of your business. So, your role is to support your people by giving them the tools to be successful at their jobs, and setting clear examples for meeting job expectations.
This means providing clear examples of what behaviors are and aren’t appropriate for successfully meeting job expectations. Your standards for behaviors must be communicated with employees so that you can hold them accountable when they’re slipping up.
When you’ve done your part, and the employee is still not willing to follow your work rules or behavior standards, then it’s time for disciplinary action. The purpose of disciplinary action is to bring awareness of the behavior that needs to be corrected and not necessarily to punish the employee.
A well-written disciplinary policy guides you on the situations and steps you take to apply discipline across your organization, consistently and fairly. Popular disciplinary policies use progressive discipline, or step discipline, to address policy violations and behavioral issues.
Your progressive discipline policy may include the following steps:
– First Written Warning – Second Written Warning – Third Written Warning or Suspension – Suspension or Demotion (or termination depending on the severity of the situation or lack of progress) – Termination
Sounds easy, right? It is. You just need to follow your policies and document what you’ve done with your employees. This is where a Disciplinary Action form comes into play. It’s used for documenting the work rules and behavioral expectations employees are not meeting per standards.
Here are some reasons you might use your Disciplinary Action form:
– Poor Attendance and punctuality. – Safety violations. – Not meeting job expectations, performance requirements. – Poor behavior (attitude, spreading rumors, and yes, even rolling their eyes in disrespect).
Disciplinary Action forms provide a record of all the steps you took to support your employee’s success in meeting expectations. So make sure you preserve this record and keep it in personnel files.
Termination is never a good outcome for employees. But if you can’t avoid termination, then the form documents the fact that you gave your employee multiple opportunities to improve and that you only terminated them because they left you no other choice.
This puts you in a good position because you’ll have evidence of what led up to the termination should this ever be called into question.
Ideally, you’ll meet with the employee at least two times. The first time is to get their side of the story, and the second time is when you meet with them and present the Disciplinary Action form. So what do you include in your Disciplinary Action form?
Take a deep breath! It’s going to be ok as long as you remember this: you are the person with the authority to deliver disciplinary action. All that you want is to ensure that the employee understands what they did and how it violated your policies or behavioral standards and what they need to do to improve.
Don’t forget to use empathy but stay on track and document how the conversation goes and make sure everything is kept in personnel files.
Managing people is a difficult job. You’re not alone. With practice, it gets easier. And some even say that it’s satisfying. It brings joy because they get to use their powers for good: to support and develop people.
Are you interested in learning more about the joys of managing people?
Connect with be the change HR and discover how you can improve your management practices so you spend less time on disciplinary issues. Or, explore enrolling your real estate team in coaching with Kathleen Metcalf.
Written by Raul T. Pereyra – HR Pro of be the change HR