How to discipline an employee

Effective discipline can help to correct employee behavioral issues and can increase productivity.

How to discipline an employee

Disciplining employees is a necessary matter in every organization, albeit an unpleasant one. Effective discipline can help to correct employee behavioral issues and can increase productivity. Effective discipline will also help to protect your company against wrongful termination lawsuits.

It is important to have a strategically designed discipline policy so that your employees know what is expected and what will happen if they do not meet expectations. Having this degree of consistency will provide your organization with a sense of stability that all of your employees, managers, and HR personnel will appreciate. Using the following steps for disciplinary action can make it easy for you to meet this ideal.

Step 1: Oral Reprimand

Oral reprimands should be given as soon as a manager or employer notices an issue with an employee’s performance or behavior. Oral reprimands should be given tactfully, so that employees understand that reprimands are constructive criticism and not personal attacks. It may be helpful for employers or managers to design a verbal reprimand form so that written documentation can be kept of oral reprimands.

Step 2: Written Warning

If an employee does not respond to a verbal reprimand favorably or begins t o exhibit further behavioral or performance issues, it may be necessary to issue a wri tten warning. An effective written warning should detail exactly what the undesirable aspects of the employee’s behavior or performance are, how the employee should correct these issues, and what will happen if the employee does not correct these issues. Employees should be given a copy of the written warning that has been signed by a manager, a witness, and the offending employee.

Step 3: Final Documentation

If an employee continues to exhibit poor performance after receiving a written warning, managers should issue final documentation. When final documentation is given, employees should be shown all other times that reprimands have been given and documented, while managers pointedly explain how they were instructed to act and how they failed to meet the expectations. Employees should understand that they may face termination if the behavior continues, but should still be given a chance to meet the expectations.

Step 4: Suspension with Probation

If an employee still continues to fail to meet expectations after final documentation has been given, you may wish to give the employee one final chance in the form of a suspension with a subsequent probationary period. The probationary period may include a dock in pay, continuous supervision, or retraining efforts. Before an employee is suspended, HR professionals should be consulted.

Step 5: Termination

If an employee continues to exhibit the same behaviors after the suspension period or does not respond favorably to retraining, it is unfortunately time to move on to termination. When an employee is terminated, the final meeting should be in person and the employee should be given documentation and an explanation as to the exact reasons for the termination. If all behavioral issues have been documented every step of the way, the employee should not be able to collect unemployment or file a wrongful termination lawsuit.


Dave Rietsema is the CEO of Matchr and former HR Professional with more than 10 years of experience helping companies to find the best HR software.

How To Discipline An Employee

Here in the Philippines, one of the most difficult management problems is how to instill discipline. A wrong disciplinary action may cause resentment not only in the affected person, but also among others in the workforce. Worst is that it may provoke legal action, or in extreme cases, even violence.

On the other hand, managers who are too lax will also find their operations suffering from the lack of discipline. Knowing how to discipline an employee is one of the most important responsibilities of management and may be the most difficult. In a nutshell, here are some of the most important things to consider when doing this unpleasant task:

Know the purpose of the disciplinary action. Before confronting the employee about his transgression, you must first keep in mind the right reasons for the disciplinary action. You must be calm so that your judgement would not be adversely affected. Remember that the main purpose is to correct a wrong behavior and not to punish a person.

Have a thorough knowledge of the employee manual. Your actions must be within the parameters of your employee or company manual. This is to be consistent and to avoid legal problems. Your manual must be continuously updated to improve the rules and to keep up with the latest labor related rulings.

Emphasize preventive discipline. Preventive discipline is designed so as to focus on promoting desired behavior rather than looking for mistakes to punish. This style has generally been proven to be more effective and less stressful to management.

Know how to motivate employees to comply. There are many ways to encourage employees to comply with the rules. One of the most important is that management must set an example. Another way is to be fair in the application of the rules. Favoritism is a leading cause of demotivation.

Discover the sources of disciplinary problems. If you do not get to the root of the problem, it will keep coming back. In severe cases, it is sometimes found that there is drug abuse. Having regular drug checks would go a long way to reduce such types of problems.

Follow due process and legal requirements. This is especially true when terminating employment. You cannot just fire an employee even if he is caught red-handed committing a crime. There are due process requirements mandated by the labor code that every company must follow.

Follow up on the employee. Realize that disciplinary action is only the start of remedial action unless it a case of termination. Give guidance to the employee to reduce the chance of his doing another transgression.

Disciplining an employee is an essential task that every manager or entrepreneur must learn to do right. A business with undisciplined employees is unlikely to last long in a competitive industry.

To know more on how to discipline employees, BusinessCoach, Inc., a leading business seminar provider, will be conducting a seminar entitled, “Effective Employee Discipline.” Contact (02) 727-5628, (02) 727-8860, (0915) 205-0133 or visit for details.

Click here to view details of the seminar: Effective Employee Discipline »




The speaker was really good. You can easily grasp the topic. I have already attended three seminars here, and I am convinced that you will not leave the room without learning. You will learn a lot from the speakers. (Basic Supervisory Skills Training)

Jean Lanie Profugo, CLP Metal Industries and Precision Toolings


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