Hr Consultant
Hr Consultant

Cite.Co is a repository of information created by your industry peers and experienced seniors sharing their experience and insights.
Join Us and help by adding your inputs. Contributions From Other Members Follow Below...



Progressive Discipline: What Supervisors Need to Know

Topic: HR Policies & Procedures

You can't ... and you shouldn't want to ... just terminate problem employees. There's a better way. Here's how to train on it.

Attendance problems. Poor job performance. Safety violations. Abuse or theft of company property.

If you've got problems like these at your workplace, you're far from alone. But more important than knowing that you have them is knowing what to do about them. Or rather, having your supervisors know, as they're the ones who deal with them daily.

Ignored by supervisors, discipline problems can grow, as other workers look on and lose respect for management's leadership. Handled too roughly, as in simply firing those you think cause trouble, you could be acting in an unjustified or even illegal manner, resulting in EEO problems and wrongful termination suits. Is there a better way?


Start training your supervisors in progressive discipline today. Learn more about the new program: Audio Click 'n Train: Progressive Discipline.


Yes, it's progressive discipline ... the multistep system of making "the punishment fit the crime," starting with light warnings for first offenders and progressing to termination for repeated or serious violations, but giving opportunities for reform and redemption all along the way.

Supervisors aren't born knowing how to do this. They need to be trained. Here are some key understandings they need to acquire, taken from BLR's new training program, Audio Click ' n Train: Progressive Discipline:

--Reasons for Progressive Discipline. Supervisors must understand that the process not only treats people in a manner appropriate to their behavior, and shows other employees you are both fair and consistent, but also actually creates opportunities. If a problem employee with potential can be turned around, everyone involved wins. That can't happen if someone is simply discharged.

-- Laws Controlling Discipline. Equal Employment Opportunity laws are specific in that discipline can never be based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender or, depending on state law, other factors. Further, it's illegal to use discipline as retaliation for whistleblowing, union or other protected activities.

-- How to Implement Progressive Discipline. The usual steps are first oral and then written warnings, followed, if need be, by suspension without pay and finally by termination. Supervisors need to learn to properly use these steps, including skillfully conducting meetings and building corrective action plans along the way. Most important, they need to learn to focus on the erroneous action and not on the individual, and to emphasize correction, not punishment. They also should know at what steps HR approval must be sought and when other management personnel should be involved.

--The Need for Documentation. Each step needs to be surrounded by paperwork that shows your company has 1) allowed workers involved to tell their stories; 2) investigated fully what happened; and 3) taken any action on a fair and consistent basis. Anything less exposes you to expensive, protracted legal challenge.

Discipline, in most cases, is seen as a punitive action, taken as a knee-jerk response to unacceptable behavior in a "problem" employee. Instead of being corrective, to show the employee the error of his/her ways, some supervisors want to deal with the situation in the harshest manner possible, thereby causing unwarranted workforce friction and decline in morale which negatively affects productivity and efficiency.

Progressive discipline serves two purposes:

1. It emphasizes to the employee that his/her actions is not within the realm of acceptable conduct, and that change is necessary. Further, it sends a message to the rest of the workforce that similar conduct will not be tolerated, now or in the future, thus reminding employees of their obligations and responsibilities.

2. It provides a "second chance" opportunity for the employee to recognize that his conduct in unacceptable, and initially, without loss of wages or benefits, to make the necessary adjustments in his/her behavior.

Progressive discipline is a positive for both parties, for the employee s/he realizes what is expected without financial loss; for the employer, a delinquent employee is set on the right path without the need to recruit and train a replacement.

However, progressive discipline should be reserved only for non-serious cases - those which do not involve insubordination, theft, destruction of property, actions which imperil life or property, and the like - where swift and harsh response is appropriate.

This discussion thread is closed. If you want to continue this discussion or have a follow up question, please post it on the network.
Add the url of this thread if you want to cite this discussion.

About Us Advertise Contact Us
Privacy Policy Disclaimer Terms Of Service

All rights reserved @ 2020 Cite.Co™