• LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Writing the ‘written warning’

Get PDF file

by on
in Leaders & Managers,People Management

A “written warning” is usually a key step in the process of progressive discipline. Its purpose, of course, is to effect a change in behavior. But how do you write one? Here is some sound advice:

Use narrative. Standard forms or checklists are fine for documentation in a personnel file, but they aren’t very persuasive in directing a behavior change. Tell the story of what’s happened, what needs to happen, and what will happen if that doesn’t happen.

Use structure. Start with a brief paragraph describing the current situation. Follow that with an explanation of the problems you’ve seen up until this point, and the steps you’ve taken—coaching and counseling—to resolve them (be specific). Then outline your plan for improvement—again be specific. Set milestones and benchmarks for progress. Conclude by explaining the consequences of continued unacceptable performance.

Use the right tone. Avoid being opaque or bureaucratic—remember that you’re writing to the employee. Be concise and honest, but keep in mind that your goal is not termination, but positive change.

Leave a Comment