Managers often lament that it is nearly impossible to discipline or terminate problem employees these days. It’s a common complaint for sure, but hardly true.
Let’s face it, dealing with Employee Relations Problems is one of the toughest parts of a manager’s job. And “dealing” is the operative word as these problems rarely resolve themselves.
Most managers have no issue with terminating someone “for cause”, as this usually pertains to instances of gross misconduct on company time or on company property. And though these are usually difficult situations, their resolution is mostly quick and obvious.
On the other hand, resolving performance problems or work rule infractions is not so cut and dry. In so much as these situations are disruptive and non-productive, it is understandable that managers want quick solutions; however, the prospect of embarking on a protracted Employee Relations Process is what often frustrates managers.
That said, the process is meant to be deliberate for good reason — it protects employees from arbitrary managers, while also forcing companies to create a “paper trail” in the event of legal action. In this context, what we are talking about is Documentation.
Granted, gathering Documentation often causes confusion and consternation among managers, but in reality, these would include such sources as:
* Job Descriptions
* Policy and Procedures Manuals
* Past Performance Appraisals
* Employee Handbooks
* Summaries of Counseling
* Oral and Written Warnings
* Feedback from others
Of these, the first four will normally exist as Management Communications Tools, while the next three are created as a result of a specific Employee Relations situation. These typically take the form of letters or memos, signed or acknowledged by the manager and the employee, and then placed in the employee’s Personnel File.
As far as documenting the problem or infraction, here are several tips to consider:
* Clearly identify the problem (Performance or Work Rules)
* Itemize how and where the employee is falling short of expectations.
* Prescribe a remedial course of action with time frames and benchmarks.
* Identify possible subsequent actions (final warnings, reprimands, docking of pay)
* Articulate the consequence of failure to rectify the situation. (suspension, termination)
* Solicit and include the employee’s input and reaction.
* Indicate a follow-up date.
It goes without saying that each of these actions should be applied consistently and in accordance with established policy.
Companies with a Human Resource Department will be able to guide managers through this process; however, businesses without a formal HR Department should consult with outside experts or appropriate Legal Counsel.
For additional information on this topic, there are many available desktop and on line resources easily found with a quick Internet Search.