Holding a discipline session with an employee is one of the least pleasurable parts of being a supervisor. Nobody enjoys telling someone that they are not performing up to par, and the way that you deliver this discipline will determine your worth as a supervisor. That said, you must learn to deliver effective discipline without compromising the employee’s self esteem while still obtaining the desired results.
The first step to effective discipline is to clearly define the goal. If you just ramble into a discipline session with an employee with no clear goals in mind, you will end up simply making them upset. Know what you are wanting to accomplish before you ever say a word.
Sit down and have a practice session in your mind before you actually sit down with the employee. This is a highly effective way to pinpoint potential problems, such as excuses, policy problems, and wording. Think about what you will say, and how you will say it. Ask yourself what excuses they will give, and how you will respond. Having these things already thought out makes a huge difference when you discipline someone in the workplace.
When you are ready to have your session, sit the employee down in total privacy. Never reprimand an employee in public, or in front of their peers. This is demeaning and unnecessary, and much less likely to get the results you are looking for.
Do not ever get into an argument with your employee. State the expectation and why they are falling short. Discuss the modifications to their behavior, and the potential ramifications if they are not adhered to. If the employee responds in a hostile way, or in any way starts to argue, simply explain that you will continue the discussion when they have calmed down. Then walk away.
This does not mean to not listen to your employee. Allow them to discuss the situation with you logically and calmly. Often, a simple misunderstanding can be the root cause of a problem. Keep an open mind, but do not compromise company policy at any time.
When you are finished with the session, have the employee repeat the expectations back to you to ensure compliance and understanding. Make sure that they are clear of the expectations, and the result of not complying with those expectations. Thank them for their time, and leave on a positive upbeat note. Let them know that you value them, and that you are confident that this problem is resolved. This will help them to feel invested in the situation and push them to want to succeed.
Employee discipline is one of the most difficult parts of being a supervisor, but it is also quite rewarding when you see the results. If you are careful to follow these guidelines, you will see a much higher percentage of your employees doing what is needed to succeed.