A topic that nobody loves to talk about is discipline. Let’s face it, most people by nature don’t like confrontation. Other than breaking up with someone, the discipline talk has to be one of the most uncomfortable conversation that one person can have with another.
The reason discipline is uncomfortable for both parties is because the manager did not do a good job keeping the employee informed of their performance. The other reason is because often times the employee is surprised by the conversation. Why is the employee surprised by the conversation? Because the manager did not communicate with the employee. As you can see, one is a symptom of the other.
As a union steward, I see several discipline cases on a weekly basis. This is not a pro union nor pro management story, but just from a union perspective. The reason that I am successful in having discipline either reduced or completely thrown out is the result of lazy management. Where I currently work, management wants to go from no discipline to removal in one step. The first question I always ask during the grievance process is “did you let the employee know of the attendance policy?” Almost every time the answer is “no”. If no conversation has occurred regarding expectations, how could the employee possibly know they are not meeting expectations?
If management would just do the simple things when it comes to discipline, it would make the union’s job that much harder. However, since management will not even discuss the attendance policy and set the expectation, the employee is surprised to find out they are in violation of the policy. This is true of all fields. If management does not discuss what is expected, how can they hold anybody accountable?
Management cannot just discuss the policy one time and then forget about it. Think of it this way, you have a sales meeting in March to explain sales numbers are low. Then you don’t have another meeting until October and then discipline everyone with low sales numbers. Were you effective? Probably not. As a manager, you should be going over expectations all the time so there is not questions.
Therefore, go over expectations, and have discussions with your employees. Maybe it will make those awkward discipline conversations go easier. Easier for both you and the employee. Hopefully by being proactive, you will reduce the number of discipline conversation you hold.