Dealing with Problem Employees
After you've investigated
a problem or complaint, if you find that action is necessary, you'll need to
deal with the employee in question. Prior to disciplining an employee for
violating work rules or engaging in other workplace misconduct, ask yourself the
- Did the employee have advance notice of the rule and the possible or
probable disciplinary consequences of breaking the rule?
- Is the rule reasonably related to the orderly, efficient, and safe
operation of the business?
- Does the rule require conduct that might be reasonably expected of an
- Has an effort been made to determine whether the employee actually engaged
in conduct that violated the rule?
- Was the investigation
of the conduct fair and objective? Did the investigation include an effort
to get the employee's version of events?
- Did the investigation find substantial facts that show that the employee
- Has the rule in question been applied to all employees in a similar
- Did the investigation reveal any facts that might justify or excuse the
If after going through these questions discipline still seems appropriate,
you should then proceed with the process. Be sure that the steps you follow are
the most appropriate for the problem, since different discipline methods should
be employed depending on the problem. Generally, you can choose one of two
courses of action in dealing with the employee. You can:
the employee (a preferable course of action for a minor offense, a
first-time, nonserious offense, or a work performance problem).
the employee (this is more appropriate for serious offenses, frequent
offenders, and problems involving the willful disregard of a company policy
On the whole, coaching is more desirable because it focuses on changing the
behavior and retaining the employee. However, there are times when you want to
penalize or punish an employee, and discipline is necessary in those instances.
It's important understand the difference so that you can make an informed choice
about your course of action.