Progressive discipline is a process of addressing an employee's poor performance in a systematic way. This process typically includes a series of steps, such as verbal warnings, written warnings, and finally, termination. The goal of progressive discipline is to help the employee improve their performance and avoid future issues.
When it comes to managing employee performance through progressive discipline, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it's important to be consistent with the process. Every employee should be treated the same when it comes to progressive discipline. Second, make sure that you document each step of the process. This will help you later if you need to take further action. Finally, always give the employee an opportunity to improve their performance. Remember, the goal is to help them succeed, not to punish them.
Typically, before you start the process of progressive discipline policy, you should be meeting with the employee to discuss what expectations have not been met and how to meet them. Ideally, this should be done in a coaching format - think of how players are coached to improve their performance before taking more drastic steps. Of course, this assumes that the behaviours are not egregious or violating more severe company policies or expectations (i.e. health & safety, harassment, violence, etc.). This conversation should be documented, signed by the employee, and placed in the employee file.
If the behavior continues, typically a "verbal" warning is issued. This is truly the first discipline action notice that falls under the policy. Unfortunately, the term verbal is usually considered only to be "verbal" by many employers. This is false as the conversation and the outcomes should be documented and signed by the employee agreeing that they will work to improve performance and that they understand the expectations.
The next step usually involves a written warning which is essentially identical to the verbal warning. You may consider changing your process to just say 1st warning and 2nd warning for both of these steps (verbal and written). This might help to clarify where you are at in your process and avoid the confusion of verbal vs. written.
The second to last step could involve a suspension of some kind. These should be intended to provide the employee with an understanding of the seriousness of the situation but should be not viewed as punitive. The duration for this should be in line with the severity of the violations.
The last step is termination of employment. This should only happen if the employee has not responded to any of the prior steps positively and/or there is no reasonable expectation for future success. How that termination looks should be discussed with an HR professional or employment lawyer to help mitigate the potential for claims of wrongful termination.
With any progressive discipline process, it should be noted that any step of this process may be side-stepped based on the severity of the actions and the response from the employee.
If you follow these tips, you'll be on your way to properly managing employee performance through progressive discipline. Contact us today to find out we can help introduce a strong performance management program into your organization.
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