Human resources is often involved in employee relations issues that have spun out of control. The situation usually revolves around an employee that does not seem to “get it”. These disciplinary talks usually involve the employee’s immediate manager or supervisor and an hr representative. In most instances, the management team is partly responsible for allowing the employee to get out of line.
Many of these problems can be traced back to the message we are delivering to the employee. Think back to a time where you had to have a serious conversation with an employee that broke a policy or simply did not do what was asked of them. How did you go about this conversation?
The first step should be to gather your thoughts. Start with the outcome in mind. What is it that you want to accomplish from the discussion. Have this be the basis of your strategy for the conversation. Back up your opinion with specific, accurate, and factual information. Be objective and direct with the message you want to convey. The tone and delivery should be consistent with the message being communicated. If the employee has an attendance problem, have their record on hand and show it to them. Tell them it will not be tolerated and unacceptable of any employee. The unwanted behavior or incident needs to be clearly outlined and the company’s stance given in a straightforward manner. Explain frankly, the consequences of not following the instructions given and get a written commitment from the individual. This written commitment needs to include details of the conversation, expectations of the employee, and their understanding of the consequences of another occurrence.
Pitfalls of disciplinary reviews usually lie in the message. Managers that are indirect or bring in other irrelevant situations lose credibility with the employee. Sending mixed messages is another common mistake. Don’t end the conversation with a warm and fuzzy or change the subject. End it with a mutual understanding of what is expected. The employee needs to leave understanding that they made a mistake. When the message is communicated poorly, it fosters bad behavior. Providing the employee with the right message is the right thing to do.