Whether you’re giving an oral warning to a new hire or issuing a last chance to a veteran employee who is on thin ice, there’s one step you must take before you discipline: Pinpoint exactly why the employee isn’t performing appropriately.
That’s not as simple as it may seem. Not every situation that seems to warrant discipline can be blamed on laziness, carelessness, contrariness or stupidity. Always weigh these possibilities before acting.
- Is the employee qualified for the position, and properly trained?
- Did he or she receive accurate instructions and the right tools for the job? Were deadlines and production schedules reasonable? Was there adequate supervision? Were procedures clearly explained?
- Could the work environment have hurt job performance? Was the lighting adequate? Was it too noisy, too hot or too cold? Was there sufficient ventilation? Were safety hazards a distraction?
- Was the employee inattentive because the work is monotonous or boring? Was he or she demotivated by poor pay or lack of job security or advancement opportunities?
- Did personality clashes between the employee and his or her supervisor or co-workers get in the way of good performance?
- Is there some medical reason for the problem?
These factors may not necessarily excuse, but you must factor them into your disciplinary decisions.
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