How to Successfully Handle Disciplinary Action

Dr. Ryan Giffen

Creating disciplinary rules for your employees that are consistent and fair is crucial for any business. It’s important that these rules are the same for each person working for you. Not only would it be immoral to have different rules for different workers, but it is also illegal to do so. As a manager, you cannot discriminate against some employees over others. Create a policy everyone is aware of before any incidents arise. This will ensure that you are handling disciplinary action at work in a fair manner. 

How to Enforce Fair yet Strong Disciplinary actions 

You should review your disciplinary procedures often. This will help make sure you are following the policies exactly as they appear. Adding your disciplinary policies to the employee handbook is a great place to start. You should also add a code of ethics to your handbook. Handing these out to new employees can ensure they understand these procedures.

Stay Neutral When Dealing with Conflicting Incident Stories 

Always stay neutral. If faced with a situation where there is more than one story, you need to have an open mind. Staying neutral in the matter will show your employees you are listening to them and not taking sides. Yet, if you are unable to remain fair in the matter, you can bring in a third party for help. Asking someone from the company’s HR department to step in can help make the decision process much easier when dealing with disciplinary action.

Get All the Facts and Gather Evidence

Further, investigate the problem to be sure you have all the facts. You want to get the full story before you start with the disciplinary proceedings. To do this, you can get a statement from witnesses at the scene. Or you can get written statements from anyone involved. This will help to guarantee that your disciplinary actions are fair. 

Ensure the Punishment Suits the Violation

Consider the severity of the incident. Is it a minor problem or something more severe? As the manager, you should take the time to figure out the type of disciplinary action to give based on your policy. You could give a verbal or written warning for minor offenses. For severe incidents, a suspension or termination may be in order. You should also take into account if the issues are a first-time or repeat offense. 

Speak with Your Employees in Private

Schedule a meeting with the employees involved. You can speak with each individual in a private office where they can give their full account. After hearing their side of the story, go over the company policy and disciplinary procedures with them. Also, present them with any evidence you gathered that may go against their story. It’s fine to give them a second chance to explain themselves if you catch them in a lie. Wait until you interview everyone before you make a decision. You should go through the same process with each person.

Have a Disciplinary action Form Prepared

Prepare a document for each employee involved in the incident to sign. The document can include details from the meeting. You may also want to include a signed document showing the employee received the company policy handbook. 

Schedule a Final Meeting to Present Your Decision 

Call in the employees for another private meeting. Discuss any new evidence that wasn’t mentioned in the initial meeting. Let the employee know what the punishment is for their misconduct and go over the disciplinary policy again if needed. You may also want to discuss the discipline form again and have them sign and date the form. 

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.