Workplace Corrective Actions the Easy Way, Part I

Workplace Corrective Actions the Easy Way, Part I

This is the first of three articles on the topic of workforce corrections, starting with a brief look into the performance management infrastructure, then moving on to the procedural factors of corrective actions. Before we get into the “how to” of workplace corrective actions, let’s talk about the “why to” of performance management. Performance in a workplace refers to the ability of individuals to contribute to the success of an organization through specific functional roles. In other words, it is through the work of individuals that your business succeeds in its objectives. The better those individuals work the more success your business achieves. Also, better management of performance contributions leads to happier people all around. So, it is in everyone’s best interests to get performance management right.

Alas, this series of articles is not about how to get performance management right, it is about getting performance corrections right, e.g., resolving performance issues, and that starts with a couple of fundamental truths. First, performance management is much easier to manage if you link performance evaluations to formal and relevant job descriptions. Second, the worst thing you can introduce into any performance evaluation or correction action is surprise. If you surprise someone with corrective or constructive feedback during a periodic performance evaluation, you've already done something wrong as a manager. Here are a couple of rules to keep in mind:

  • Performance should be managed on a day-to-day basis, corrections and acknowledgements should be as close as possible to the situations that warrant the action.
  • Every employee should have in hand both a job description and a performance evaluation document, linked to said job description, on the first day of employment or as close to it as possible.
  • Be respectful whenever you need to correct performance or behavior because you want cooperation, not resentment. Cooperation happens in the light; resentment goes underground making your job harder and risks the purpose of performance management; to get the best possible performance out of every contributor.

Having written that, I can now acknowledge that there are times when correction action of behaviors is necessary to the effective management of an organization. How to do that the easy way is the subject of the second two articles in this series. However, we can include here some basic rules for corrective actions also, as follows:

  • Include a Corrective Action policy in your employee handbook/policy manual. (Remember, no surprises!)
  • Include a Standards of Conduct section in your employee handbook/policy manual, detailing what sorts of behaviors are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
  • At least one of the above mentioned policies should reference specific behaviors that are subject to immediate termination of employment in your workplace.
  • Be explicit in communicating performance expectations, both in your evaluation forms and in conversation with employees.
  • You cannot document too much. Even verbal communication around deficient performance and unacceptable behaviors should be documented in an email or memo summarizing what occurred and was agreed upon during any conversation. The JuvodHR corrective action notices include the “immediate termination of employment” language above the signature line.

Key to the foundation of a healthy and stable performance management system is beginning with strong job descriptions that create a shared understanding about the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to successful performance. Performance documents should link clearly to the functions and abilities defined in the job description. When correction actions are necessary, knowing you start with a shared understanding of the job makes the process easier for employee and manager alike. The next article discusses some of the procedural factors of correction actions.

Our guest author for today is Doreen Petty, CEO of Coaching The Boss.

Follow JuvodHR