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Issuing an oral reprimand

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

The first step in formal disciplinary action is an oral reprimand.

Before you take this major step, however, be sure of the facts. Do you have evidence that your employee actually disobeyed a company rule or failed to carry out a job responsibility?

Also, are you clear about the extent of your authority to take further action? (In other words, what further consequences can you legitimately warn your employee about?)

When you give an oral reprimand, describe exactly what the worker has done that is unacceptable. And clearly specify what behavior is now expected. Then explain to the employee what will happen if he or she does not comply with your expectations.

The consequences for lack of improvement can range from a written reprimand placed in the worker’s personnel file to probation for a particular period of time.

The choice will depend upon the supervisor’s judgment of what will work best and the nature of the company’s disciplinary policy.

Keep two things in mind when you give an oral reprimand:

1. Control your feelings; stay calm. Don’t belittle, embarrass or intimidate your employee; treat him or her firmly but with dignity.

2. Keep good records about what happened—the employee’s unacceptable behavior and what you did about it. Make sure you record specifics and date them. If the employee is ultimately terminated, your notes may be needed to show that you handled the situation fairly and within the organization’s guidelines.

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