Discipline | How To Use For Termination
Progressive discipline is a method for rehabilitating a problem
employee. Its goal is to “fix” the problem employee.
With this method, you give warnings of increasing severity and
urgency for poor performance and misconduct. If the employee doesn’t
heed the warnings, she uses up all her chances. She then leaves
you no choice but to terminate her. In effect, she fires herself.
Here are the steps in progressive discipline:
1) Verbal warning
2) Written warning
3) Final written warning
As you can see, the problem employee gets 3 chances to improve
before you terminate her.
You may wonder, “Why do I need to bother with this method?
And why am I trying to rehabilitate this employee? I just want
to fire the jerk!”
These are good questions. There are 3 reasons you should use progressive
First, a bad apple is a bad apple. So, it’s unlikely a problem
employee will shape up enough to survive progressive discipline.
And, if she does, good for you … it’s expensive to
recruit productive employees. The more likely outcome is the employee
ignores your warnings or only gives a halfhearted attempt to improve.
So, you can rightfully terminate. Often, you don’t have to
terminate because the pressure forces the employee to resign voluntarily.
Second, using progressive discipline significantly cuts your legal
exposure. This is the most important reason for using this method.
By giving warnings, you create a bulletproof document trail. Your
warnings will “memorialize” the incident, explain how
the employee should improve and tell her that her job is in jeopardy.
And, you do this 3 times before you fire her. This is why juries
see this disciplinary approach as being fair to the employee.
Using this disciplinary method, you destroy the problem employee’s
legal case. She can’t argue, “My employer was unfair
to me because…
o He never gave me a chance to improve.
o He never told me I had a performance problem.
o He never told me that my job was at risk."
By building a big file on her, she’ll be less likely to
sue you. And, you won’t surprise her with her termination.
Third, this approach is just good business. Not only does it lower
your chance of a wrongful termination suit, but it sends a message
to your good employees you won’t fire them on a whim. They’ll
see there’s a safety net, so if they screw up, they get a
chance to improve. For the employee, this means increased job security
and peace of mind. For you, the employer, it means happier and
more productive employees.
The best source for learning how to use this method to fire legally
and safely fire a problem employee is Dan Betts’s Employee
Termination Guidebook. It’s the most complete manual in the
marketplace today on this subject. To find out more, click progressive
discipline for terminations.