One of the hardest things that a supervisor has to do is terminate an employee.
Not only are terminations fraught with potential legal pitfalls, but they can also be an incredibly emotional experience, for both the employee and the supervisor. Sometimes firing or letting an employee go is unavoidable, but it really should be an employer's last resort when it comes to dealing with discipline or performance issues.
So what can employers do to correct these issues before they result in a termination? The answer for many companies is progressive discipline. Progressive discipline is a performance management strategy in which supervisors employ progressively more severe penalties for misconduct. The systematic nature of progressive discipline is a popular choice for employers because it sets expectations for employee behavior and performance and presents the consequences up front.
Progressive discipline is most commonly thought of in terms of a strike system: after [x] instances of misconduct, [x] type of discipline will be imposed. The more "strikes" or violations an employee incurs, the more severe the consequence. While this is a very basic framework for thinking about progressive discipline, it does a great job of illustrating the clear-cut approach it provides for employers.
Employers should not, however, allow the use of progressive discipline to box them into a corner when it comes to handling issues of misconduct. While behaviors like attendance are perfectly suited to the use of progressive discipline, it isn't always the best approach for every kind of offense. When hammering out their progressive discipline policies, employers should leave themselves enough flexibility to address specific instances of misconduct as appropriate.
Generally speaking, there are four stages of progressive discipline:
Employers may choose to have more than four stages in their progressive discipline policy, but whatever mix an employer decides to go with the stages should all be documented and the progressive discipline strategy should be applied uniformly to all employees.
As a leader in the HR outsourcing industry, G&A Partners has the expertise and resources growing companies need to effectively manage employee performance and handle instances of misconduct. G&A’s team of HR professionals can help you avoid missteps and costly mistakes by working with you to develop human resources policies and tailor procedures to fit your company and promote your vision and values.