Most would agree that if our employees are engaged and performing at their best, our nonprofit organizations will likely be successful. Meaning, we must ensure that we manage engagement and performance well. One way of accomplishing this is to set clear expectations and have a stable foundation for our employees to work from. You can achieve this with current well-written handbooks and job descriptions. Well-written handbooks should have a policy on discipline. I happen to favor progressive discipline policies. Your progressive discipline policies should be a good tool for dealing with your poor performer(s). Hopefully, you can avoid the disciplinary route when you provide clear communication about your expectations and provide prompt, appropriate support.
The following are a few practical discipline pointers for anyone who supervises:
Don’t be inconsistent
The most important thing to remember is, be consistent! Inconsistency is your number one enemy in all areas of employment. Treating employees differently in similar situations is dangerous and unfair. Equal or similar treatment is what employees seek, and if they feel they are treated worse than others, they are most likely to seek retribution. When you engage in disparate treatment, you are engaging in risky business. Inconsistent discipline for similar policy violations can likely to be used as evidence of discrimination. Don’t be that employer.
Please don’t make it personal
When you, as a supervisor, need to coach and correct (discipline) an employee, you must ensure you don’t enter into personal territory. Never scream, yell, or rage at an employee, particularly in front of other employees. Belittling behavior is never warranted. Ever. It would be best if you always approached coaching, counseling, and disciplining an employee privately, confidentially, and respectfully.
I know it can be tempting to wait and put off doing something uncomfortable. I get it. Confront the situation promptly. You will only make the situation worse by waiting. When you delay addressing bad behavior, you are allowing employees to infer that the behavior is acceptable. When problems come up, deal with them immediately and privately.
Don’t avoid confrontation because you want to be liked
Most of us have a desire to be liked. Most of us want to be the “good guy.” Unfortunately, you can’t always be popular; however, your staff can respect you. You earn respect by demonstrating it towards others – even those needing coaching or discipline. If your employees see you treat staff consistently, timely, and with respect, you will often avoid most feelings of resentment.
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