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Supervisors’ guide to progressive discipline

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

No state or federal law requires you to establish a progressive discipline policy. If your organization has one, however, make sure all your supervisors understand and follow it. Remind bosses of these principles for doling out progressive discipline:

Document verbal warnings and counseling. Then the notes go to HR for placement in personnel files.

Write up more serious or repeat infractions. Remember, progressive discipline must be tied to records of employees’ prior performance reviews, warnings and formal discipline.

Let employees tell their side of the story. Document what they say.

Let employees know what is expected of them. Managers should explicitly state: “I expect that you will ... .” Then employees must receive the resources necessary to reach the goal. The responsibility of shaping up then lies in the hands of the employees.

Set deadlines. Employees must be provided a reasonable time period within which to correct the problem. Generally, steer clear of issuing a warning at 9 a.m. and terminating the employee at 3 p.m.

Spell out the consequences of inaction. Employees need to know that they will be subject to a specific adverse action if the problem isn’t fixed.

Skip steps only when warranted. It’s not illegal to terminate an employee without running through your gamut of progressive discipline steps. But be sure that such extreme action is clearly deserved.

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