Counseling and Discipline
Management and Supervision Answers

Problem Solvers

  1. 101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems, Paul Falcone, 1998 

  2. Discipline Without Punishment/the Proven Strategy That Turns Problem Employees into Superior Performers, Dick Grote, 1995 

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How do I?

Your employee has been assigned to clean the area around his work area on a daily basis.  The employee has failed to clean the area for two days and the area is a safety hazard. 

Ideally, when the employee first started or if the employee was already there when you became the supervisor, the employee was told in writing what his duties were.  The written notification for this employee and all employees should be in your file.

The employee should be given a direct order or directive to clean his area.  The direct order provides the basis for discipline if an employee chooses not to comply with directions from the supervisor or manager.  If the employee does not carry out the direct order, the employee is insubordinate.

The direct order should be given:

"This is a direct order.  You are hereby directed to clean the area around your workstation at the end of your shift.  All excess materials and scrap should be placed in the appropriate containers.  If you do not comply with this direct order, you may be disciplined for insubordination." 

If practical, have another supervisor witness the direct order and document the direct order in your log.  The log should include what was said, when it was said and identify any witnesses.

If the employee complies with the direct order, your documentation should be filed in the event that the employee refuses to comply in the future.  If the employee does not comply, then you should discipline the employee for insubordination.

While you are away from the office, two of your employees engage in an altercation.  The details are unclear, but the situation is clearly escalating as each employee takes advantage of every opportunity to chide the other.  What should I do?

Step 1
First, stop the escalating situation.  Refer to your company's policy on employee behavior.  Based on the policy, give both employees a direct order to adhere to the policy on behavior.  Typically, the policy will address an aspect of professional behavior or mutual respect.  

You may want to give both employees the direct order at the same time.  Try to have another supervisor present.  This will ensure that both employees will hear the same direct order and addresses potential accusations of your playing favorites.  

Step 2 
Conduct an investigation into the verbal altercation.  Pay particular attention to witnesses, what was said, and whether what was said violates company policy such as use of profanity and threats.  You'll have more time to conduct a thorough investigation as the direct order should allow you to focus on the investigation and provides a foundation for addressing future occurrences.

What will you do if your most reliable employee starts to constantly report for work late?

What is company policy?  What is your policy?  Have these policies been formally communicated to all staff?  Do employees have a flexible schedule?  The point is that you cannot hold employees accountable for either rules that have not been established and have not been communicated to all employees.

Document any communications regarding company policy and your standards of behavior to staff.  Given that the employee has been productive and reliable in the past, take the employee aside.  Talk to the employee, confirm the employee's knowledge of the policy and identify the problem.  Typically, tardiness is a symptom of a problem.  For example, the employee may be having personal problems, childcare issues, suffering from burnout or simply bored by the work.  

Inform the employee of the consequences if the tardiness continues and work with the employee to resolve the problem.  Document your discussion with the employee so that if the tardiness continues, you've established the basis for discipline.   

How do I document a discipline?

A proposed discipline should be documented with:

  1. The policy or rule that has been violated.
  2. A summary or log of events that constitute the violation.
  3. Documentation of the violation including an investigation report, witness statements, or evidence such as time sheets and reports.
  4. The documentation should specify who did what, what rule or policy has been violated, when did it happen, where did it happen, who witnessed the violation, what documents the violation.

The format is typically determined by either your supervisor or your company's human resources unit.  All disciplines should be documented with their guidance and approval.

I inherited an older employee who can't seem to keep up.  How do I discipline the employee?

Age is irrelevant.  Don't make any connection either implicitly or explicitly between your desired action and the employee's age.  Age discrimination is against the law.  Keep in mind that its generally more cost effective to bring an employee up to standards than to recruit, hire and train a new employee.

Your objective is to have all of your employees perform to the company's and your expectations and standards.  Does the employee know what is expected of him or her?  Has the employee been properly trained?  Does the employee have the proper equipment or tools?


 

FranklinCovey. Experts at getting organized.

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