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HR Quick Tip: Discipline

By May 2, 2023September 13th, 2023No Comments

What do your policies and procedures have to do with discipline?

Most would agree that if our employees are engaged and performing well, our nonprofit organization is likely to be successful. This means it is important for us to 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. Some of that can be accomplished with current, well-written handbooks and job descriptions. Within those current, well-written handbooks should be a policy on discipline/coaching/counseling. Your progressive discipline policy is a good tool for dealing with poor performance and poor performer(s). When you can provide clear communication about your expectations and provide prompt, appropriate support, hopefully you can avoid the disciplinary route as well as treating these first conversation as coaching sessions.  It can also be helpful for your progressive discipline policies to contain a disclaimer outlining your ability to skip steps when the bad behavior is beyond bad.

The following are a few practical pointers for anyone who supervises:

Be consistent

The most important thing to remember is, always 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 being treated worse than others, they are more likely to seek retribution. When you engage in disparate treatment, you are engaging in risky business, which can potentially be used as evidence of alleged discrimination. Don’t be that employer.

Stay to the business issues and 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 personal territory. Never scream, yell, or rage at an employee, particularly in front of other employees. Belittling behavior is never warranted. Ever. Coaching, counseling, and disciplining an employee must always be handled privately, confidentially, and respectfully.

Be swift and timely

It can be tempting to wait and put off doing something that is uncomfortable. Confront the situation in a timely manner. 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 remember, privately).

Confrontations are often uncomfortable

Most of us have want to be liked. Most of us want to be the “good person.” Unfortunately, when you’re the boss, you can’t always be popular, but you can be respected. Respect is obtained 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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The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.

(Image by MrJub from Freepik)

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