Tips for a Successful Disciplinary Meeting July 19 2019

Having a disciplinary meeting with an employee is typically an uncomfortable task for managers and supervisors. The focus of this article is to assist employers in viewing such meetings as positive tools for employee retention and growth, rather than focusing on strictly punitive conversations and outcomes. Prior to issuing discipline, we strongly recommend conducting a thorough investigation if allegations of inappropriate conduct were submitted by another employee, if you did not witness the behaviour first-hand, or if there is little or no evidence suggesting the employee acted inappropriately.

Tips for a Successful Meeting 

Before the Meeting

  1. Review

Review any notes from the incident investigation, if applicable, as well as the employee’s personnel file and disciplinary record. If the same or similar behaviour has occurred in the past, this might warrant different or more severe discipline and correctional measures. You may need to speak with the employee’s immediate supervisor to gain more information.

  1. Prepare

Regardless of the severity of discipline issued (verbal warning, written warning, or suspension) it is imperative that the disciplinary notice is documented in writing.  We suggest stating in a letter: (1) a description or summary of their conduct, (2) citing any past behaviour or discipline which is applicable to the severity of discipline, (3) the type of discipline being issued, (4) corrective measures or improvement plan, (5) consequences should the incident/behaviour happen again.    If a collective agreement (in the case of unionized employees) or company policy includes clearing past discipline after a specific period of time, be sure not to reference discipline that is stale dated. One copy should be retained in the employee’s personnel file, and one should be provided to the employee at the end of the meeting.

  1. Schedule and Hold the Meeting

The meeting should be scheduled during the employee’s shift in a quiet, private room. When asking the employee to attend the meeting, let them know you wish to discuss a performance or behaviour concern, or wish to discuss the outcome of the investigation. In the case of unionized employees, let them know they have the right to bring union representation. Their supervisor or manager should attend with another supervisor manager or HR personnel.

During the Meeting

  1. Explain Clearly

Thank the employee for attending the meeting and state why it was called. Begin by stating the type of discipline being issued, then clearly and calmly explain to the employee why their behaviour was inappropriate. You should to cite or provide the policy in which the employee acted in contravention of. Make sure you don’t simply accuse the employee in the meeting, as this is sure to create an intimidating environment. Rather, state to the employee that they are of value to your organization and that you wish to take corrective measures and help them to improve this behaviour in the future.

  1. State Corrective Measures

Explain goals for the employee to achieve and how achieving these goals will help your organization moving forward. Ensure these objectives are clear and measurable. Measurable goals may include reviewing and signing a policy, additional training on a procedure or process, or implementing a full performance improvement plan. Don’t be afraid to use the letter you previously drafted as a script during this stage so you don’t miss any pertinent information. Ensure the conversation is focused on education, performance improvement, and trying to prevent further incidents from occurring rather than placing blame on the employee.

  1. Let the Employee Talk

It is important to make sure that the employee feels like that have had a chance to bring forth their side and answer the allegations made against them. This is especially true if you have not conducted an investigation into the incident. Corrective action is more likely to be accepted by the employee if they genuinely feel like they have been able to get their point across and have had all of their questions answered. 

Keep in mind that the above tips are more likely to be successful if your organization has clear, written, and articulated policies and procedures in place. Without written policies, an employee may be uncertain as to why their behaviour was unacceptable. For assistance in preparing for disciplinary meetings, please do not hesitate to submit a ticket through the OnDemand tab. For policy and procedure templates, or a performance improvement plan template, please visit our Resource Centre.