Workplace Corrective Actions the Easy Way, Part II

Workplace Corrective Actions the Easy Way, Part II

In the first article in this series, I discussed the "why to" of performance management and the importance of shared understandings. One lesson that we can take from that discussion is that managing performance is not something that ‘happens to’ and employee or 'is done for' a job.

It is a collaborative process that should be implemented as a communication tool; a shared and on-going conversation about the contributions of a job holder and the expectations of an employer and employee. Of course, there will be times when those contributions do not match up with expectations and times when the behavior of a job holder is in violation of policies held firm by the employer. In those cases, correction action processes create a standard of actions designed to consistently and efficiently address the need to correct behavior and performance gaps.

There are not hard and fast rules of what corrective action procedures should look like. Every company can choose the processes and tools that fit best the organization culture and the needs of the business. One common procedural is a '3-strikes' approach to progressive corrective action processes in cases where immediate termination is not justified by policy. In a 3-strikes approach, an organization may implement a correction action progression such as the one detailed below:

  • A first offense of unacceptable behavior might trigger a verbal warning and targeted coaching.
  • A second offense might trigger a written warning and/or suspension for unacceptable conduct or a performance improvement plan for deficiencies in job skills or behaviors. Written warnings should be a standardized forms like the one offered by JuvodHR (ensuring consistency across time, circumstances, and employees), which are signed by the employee indicating that the contents were read and understood. These forms are filed in the employee’s personnel file.
  • A third offense for the same unacceptable behavior in a 3-strikes approach would result in termination of employment. A termination notice should also be a standardized form.

Verbal and written warnings and termination notices must include three things:

  • A specific description of what constituted the unacceptable behavior, including specific instances of occurrence, and how the behavior affects the organization,
  • A statement of the basic expectations of performance/behavior (refer to the job description and evaluation language), specifically with regard to the current situation, and
  • An explicit explanation of the consequences for any subsequent failure to comply with basic expectations for performance/behavior, including specific disciplinary actions.

Some misconduct, while grievous enough to result in immediate termination, may actually warrant a formal investigation instead, generally due to uncertain facts or legal implications. For example, if an employee is accused of Sexual Harassment, he or she is likely to deny the accusation and it is important to understand what actually occurred before taking action. You may choose to suspend an accused person (with pay until the investigation concludes) or at least ensure that contact between the accused and the accuser is non-existent during the investigation. Workplace investigations should be done as quickly as possible following the accusation and conducted with confidentiality. Investigative process materials and instructions can be purchased. However, if you do not feel confident in your company’s ability to conduct an efficient, thorough, confidential, fair, and respectful investigation, hire it out to an HR Consultant.

The third and last article in this series will discuss the "due process" factors associated with corrective actions to be sure that all managers in an organization understand and apply corrective action procedures consistently and fairly. To do otherwise is to open an organization up to discontent and complaints, internal and external. Some good planning, careful process management, and diligent training will go a long way to managing risk in this area. Stay tuned for more from JuvodHR...

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

Follow JuvodHR