How to Manage Conflict and Take Workplace Disciplinary Action

March 4, 2019
How to Manage Conflict and Take Workplace Disciplinary Action

As much as we’d like to assume the best of everyone, rule-breaking and misbehavior are inevitable in the workplace. In such situations, disciplinary action may be required. But how do you go about these delicate situations? Here are a few helpful tips for managing conflicts and dealing with sensitive disciplinary actions.

What is Considered a Disciplinary Action at Work?

Workplace disciplinary action is a response to some form of misbehavior or rule-breaking at work. The rules that employees are expected to follow are usually defined in the company handbook or rulebook. Clearly documenting expectations regarding employee behavior — and what constitutes misbehavior — can ensure that everyone’s on the same page about what is defined as acceptable and not acceptable. Moreover, an outline of appropriate and inappropriate behavior should be accompanied by associated disciplinary action. For example, failure to perform well or comply with managerial inquiries might result in warnings-- perhaps one or two-- after which the employee is terminated. On the other hand, instances of harassment at work may have a no-tolerance policy. Examples of behavior that warrants a disciplinary action of work might fall under the following categories: failure to perform the job function properly, misconduct, or severe offense or felony.

Are There Different Types of Workplace Disciplinary Action?

There are many types of workplace disciplinary action that can be defined by the employer. For example, verbal warnings are usually the first and lowest form of action taken after someone misbehaves. Written documents, such as a letter of reprimand, are also used to ensure that the employee was informed of the disciplinary action and given adequate opportunity to correct their wrongdoings. More formally, a performance improvement plan (PIP) can be used to outline goals and expectations for improvement, as well as an outline for following them. These types of disciplinary actions all operate on the belief that the employee is well-informed of their misbehavior early and often. This ensures that the action is legal and well-documented, preventing any lawsuits or other issues with employee fairness and equality.

Who Needs to Be Involved?

Those involved in the workplace disciplinary action depends on the offense. However, it’s usually always important to involve the HR department. This is because professionals can help the manager or other reporting parties with collecting and documenting evidence of the offense. This can help keep the employee’s record accurate and ensure that their offenses are well-documented over time. An alternative is to use performance management software, which is a cost-efficient option that will help document employee behavior and lead you through performance reviews.

How to Track Progress Made on the Recommendations

Another benefit of offering these improvement plan documents and recording instances of misbehavior in the HR department is that it allows employers to track progress on the individual’s improvement. If someone was underperforming in their marketing role, for example, the PIP might have outlined specific goals for boosting that performance. The manager and employee should work together to keep track of these progress points according to the recommendations. This makes sure that everyone is on the same page about which improvements are being made and how this affects the employee’s role at the company.

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