Dealing with employee discipline is a lot easier if you are running a company that has very specific rules for managing employee discipline. They provide a preliminary guide on how to discipline employees effectively, but only if you know how to use them, anyway.
We can accept that bigger companies are the most difficult to manage, but not in all aspects. It’s wiser to know that every firm projects its challenges uniquely. Whether you are managing a multinational firm or a startup with just two employees, focusing on the peculiar challenges is the only way to achieve a new level.
In the early years of my career, I managed a small firm that didn't have rules for employee discipline. There was no written warning to suspend or fire an employee based on varied offenses such as frequent late coming, attitude to customers or colleagues, etc. And offensive employees were extremely difficult to handle until I found a way around it.
This article will expose the primary tips on how to handle employee discipline. With any of the steps missing, the entire process would be meaningless.
1) Establish something on paper
Waiting until you create an employee handbook before you can handle the challenge could keep you in the mess endlessly. Consider putting up a basic discipline policy that will be valid for all employees. They should include but not be limited to penalties for stealing, coming to work drunk, fighting, absenteeism, drug abuse, etc. Milder offenses such as lateness should also measure up with some level of penalties such as a number of verbal warnings, written warning, suspensions, and termination.
You may want to find a policy that relates to your company to modify. Don’t just give to the employees without them having a signature on it, in case of legal claims in the future.
2) Stick with the established policy
Your employee discipline policy should never be compromised. Remember it was not written for some employees, but for everyone. Once you give in to any of your employees for one (special) clause not included in your policy, it becomes a standard for others.
Maintain the appropriate procedure and serve the corresponding penalty if an employee violates any policy. At the same time, ensure that defaulting employees are aware of the final penalty if the violation involves stages.
3) Be practical
It is very common to always have an employee with a discipline issue, perhaps across all your departments. Don’t just sit and only observe after implementing the established employee discipline policy. Consider having a one-on-one meeting with the employee to discuss what the real problem is. Try to provide steps which the employee should follow to overcome the serial disciplinary issues. He or she may also make suggestions if you let them.
4) Be communicative
We will not be sincere to declare your employee discipline policy perfect. There are some special scenarios you’ll fail to cover. Hence, adding them quickly once they happen is crucial. In this case, it's important to consult your staff for input in as much as they witnessed the challenge and be clear with all the information.
5) Don't be afraid
Losing hardworking employees could be one of the sacrifices that your business requires to make. It is not easy to fire or demote your employee. But because exceptions are not healthy to your policy, fire the employee when your policy demands it otherwise, you’ll have to justify it later while dealing with employee discipline.