4 Tips To Properly Give An Employee A Warning

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warningWriting an employee up properly can make or break your ability to fire them later on down the road. And employees who don’t adhere to the company rules can be detrimental to the growth of the company in some cases. Here are a few tips on what to do with a troublesome employee.

  1. Type of Warning. Determine if the situation calls for a verbal warning, a written warning, or for the employee to be fired immediately. This will be based on the severity and frequency of the offense by the employee. Generally, it’s a verbal warning, three written warnings, and then the employee is let go. However, in severe cases, such as sexual harassment or theft, the employee may be terminated on the spot. In addition, if it is a verbal warning, ensure that the verbal warning is documented and put into the employee file. Document everything.
  2. Delivery. Who will give the employee the write-up will be determined by where the employee is in the food chain of the company. Generally someone in HR should write the warning, or at least review what the supervisor has written prior to the employee receiving it. And generally the direct supervisor should be the one to give the warning. However, if the offense is severe enough, HR may need to handle the situation and the direct supervisor may or may not be present. In addition, holding the conversation in private, away from coworkers, will ensure discretion for the employee.
  3. Necessary Information. Ensure the written warning contains all necessary information, such as: a description of the unacceptable behavior, identification and description of the appropriate behavior, a plan for the employee to follow to correct the behavior, and the punishment if corrective action is not immediately implemented by the employee.
  4. Follow-Up. The employee’s direct supervisor should consistently follow-up with the employee to give him or her feedback on his or her improvements or any additional ways the employee can improve. The supervisor should always follow-up with positive feedback for the employee as well. If the employee feels like he or she is making no ground to doing better he or she may be deterred from continuing the improvement process.

Again, ensure that all actions, warnings, etc. are documented in the employee’s file. If a supervisor gives a single employee 5 verbal warnings, but doesn’t document any of them, then there is no recourse later on when the employee doesn’t change his or her behavior. Also, the employee won’t take a supervisor very seriously who just gives him or her repeated verbal warnings.

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