When To Issue Discipline in the Workplace?

Many new supervisors are always trying to understand when is it best to issue discipline in the workplace? Unfortunately, for most of them they delay and delay the process until they have reached a point of no return. When they finally have reached that point of no return they want to jump from sitting down and counseling an employee to terminating them on the spot. My immediate advise is to definitely not terminate them because you will have many more issues to deal with than you can ever imagine.

The best time to deal with a behavior or performance issue is immediately when it is happening. Depending on what the behavior issue is you can arrange a quick meeting to sit down with the employee and do some fact finding. Fact finding is simply asking enough questions to understand why the employee exhibited the poor behavior.

As an example, if the employee is showing up to work late you need to put a stop to it. So if I were to sit down with the employee I would be asking questions, such as, “Why are you not showing up for work on time?” I would then listen to their answer very closely. If their answer sounded something like this, “My ride in the morning is always late picking me up.” Now keep in mind that we have no obligation to modify an employee’s work schedule, or to help them arrange for a different way to get to work on time.

As far as when to finally issue discipline in the workplace, I would most likely start with a informal reminder to the employee in the example above. However, if they were late again I would immediately issue a written counseling. If they continue to be late I would issue a written warning and continue issuing a written warning at least two more times. However, on the third written warning I would terminate them for their inability to show up to work on time.

However, my guess is that if you immediately address the problem with the least amount of discipline the problem will correct itself. Rarely will you have to continue to issue discipline unless the employee is just irresponsible, and in that case it might be better for them to seek other employment.

Therefore, the time to issue discipline in the workplace is as quickly as the problem presents itself but the discipline should match the offense. Good luck!

Thank you and May God bless you!

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