4 Strikes and You’re Out!
By Andrea Herran
Do you use progressive discipline (or counselling as I prefer to call it)? Do you know how? I prefer to call it counselling as the purpose behind the conversation is to let a person know that improvement is needed and you would like to see them succeed.
Discipline sounds to me more punitive and you don’t want or accept a turnaround – going through the motions until they leave. The idea behind progressive counselling is to give the employee a chance to improve their behavior or work performance.
Sounds simple enough…but how much is too much and am I giving the person a fair chance?
The generally accepted practice is 4 strikes and your out (however there are exceptions).
What do the steps look like:
Verbal Warning: this one throws people for a loop because even though the name is “verbal” it should be documented.
First Written Warning: if you didn’t document before, you must start now. Putting it in writing is what shows people you are serious about needing a change.
Second Written Warning: this occurs when after being given a reasonable amount of time to change, it still hasn’t occurred.
Termination: change still hasn’t occurred and well…you are left with no choice but to let them go.
A word of warning: at each step you must give a person a fair amount of time to change before moving to the next step and let them know that if change doesn’t occur – you will have to proceed in the counselling process.
Now, these steps are good if your people are having performance issues – for example: not turning in orders on time, forgetting to get back to the customer in a timely manner, etc. Behavior issues you may want to skip the first verbal warning if it may possibly cost you clients.
You can skip steps if what needs to be corrected is serious enough to warrant it. For example – you are not going to give an employee four chances to rob you or physically threaten other employees. Do it once and they are out.
What is a reasonable amount of time? You are not going to like this answer – it depends. How long can it take a person to adjust? Is further training needed? Maybe 30 days is enough time. Always late for work? Tomorrow is enough time. Look at it on an individual basis to determine time and/or you can ask them “when can I expect to see improvement” – that way it is their timeline and they will be more committed than if it were your timeline.
Need help with progressive counselling? Contact us!
Andrea Herran is the principal of Focus HR Consulting ( http://www.FocusHR.biz ), which provides full human resources support to small business, provides a membership service through My HR Helpline for those who want expertise just a phone call away, and provides webinars and public speaking on HR topics. Subscribe to her bi-weekly newsletter from her website.
© 2012 Andrea Herran All Rights Reserved