If disciplinary memos are ineffective to improve performance, why do you and other employers keep using them? It’s simply the fall back position after repeatedly avoiding to deal with the issue. Rather than immediately confronting the employee with the unwanted behavior, you avoid and evade taking action.
You dislike confronting bad behavior or performance for two reasons. First, it is generally an uncomfortable thing to do. Secondly, hardly anyone is properly trained to do so.
The longer you wait to resolve the situation, the further complicated it gets. What usually happens is that unwanted conduct will progressively worsen until it bothers you so much that you decide it’s time for the employee to go.
Fearing legal issues, you begin crafting memos to reprimand the employee on every possible violation. You go from no confrontation to mayor confrontation. At this point the corrective nature of the memo is probably a farce. You simply want to document every possible deficiency until the file is thick enough to boot the guy.
if instead you corrected the situation long before you began
thinking about memos or legal issues? Instead of waiting until that
point of no
return, you decided to confront unwanted behavior. Think
of all the hassle and money you could
Nothing is stopping you except your will and skill. Perhaps you may have wanted to take earlier action but were afraid to do so for fear of escalating the situation or getting involved in a shouting match. Not anymore, here are some solutions.
Decide what to confront. What is really important here? There may be several things to confront. Decide on the bigger issue. Do you want the employee to improve or is it about teaching her a lesson. Do you want to prove you are right or reach a mutually beneficial solution?
Show that you truly care and respect the employee. We all need to feel respected at all times. It’s human nature. Be firm but always respectful. Confronting the person in private in a normal tone and never ever get personal. One thing is to be late. Another is to be called lazy. Don’t fall on this trap. It’s the easiest way to divert an issue. If you disrespect someone be the first to admit it. Apologize; make sure the person gets the apology and quickly return to the issue at hand.
Make sure the worker gets that you care, and have the best interest at heart. He/she will be more receptive to whatever you have to say. Look for mutually beneficial points of view rather than ‘you versus me’ issues.
Stick to the facts. Don’t let your own filters, personal issues and stories get in the way of the truth. Too often we pre-judge and point out character flaws based on our prejudice and misconceptions. Learn how to distinguish between the facts and your story.
Give the benefit of the Doubt. Before reaching conclusions ask the other person for her side of the story. How can you help the person overcome his/her issues? Explore what are the possible barriers. Is the employees lacking of skills or motivation?
Obtain a new commitment. Once the issue is handled, ask for a new commitment. Clarify expectations and provide a framework for follow up and accountability.