As organizational leaders, we have the complex task of managing the workforce, coaching and counseling, disciplining, and at times, discharging employees. Conflict resolution is never easy, but necessary, for the workforce, employee morale and the organization. Avoiding difficult discussions or not addressing employee relations issues, can and will impact the organization. We need to be consistent and fair for all employees, while providing a due process for discipline to potential discharge.
Below are 5 elements of due process:
- Expectations and Consequences: Communicating expectations, consequences and performance standards to the employee or workforce is the first step in the process. The write-up should document a performance problem, consequences of not meeting expectations and all metrics associated with the performance problem. Follow-up dates and action items are great to include in the first step.
- Consistency: We need to treat all workers with consistent and fair rules. If we discipline one employee for a performance issue, all employees with the same issue should be disciplined. Inconsistent practices can lead to legal issues, employee moral issues, turnover and internal conflict.
- The Discipline Must be Appropriate for the Offense: Review the “big picture” prior to making a decision on discipline and probable cause for termination.
- Employee Response: The employee should be given the opportunity to respond during any investigation or administration of discipline.
- Time to Improve Performance: If your organization is using progressive discipline, we do need to allow the employee time to improve performance. However, certain situations will dictate decisions regarding performance improvement plans and immediate termination. These situations need to be consistent and fair, throughout the organization.
Coaching and counseling, disciplining or terminating an employee is never an easy decision, but one that is necessary for the organization and rest of the workforce to grow and succeed. The definition of due process is an area we should design our policies and procedures around. Remember, as the employer, you have the right to change the policies. We need to ensure we communicate the changes to the workforce. Also, keep in mind Employment-At-Will doctrine, laws and regulations. This can vary, state to state and union versus non-union employers. Seek guidance if you need assistance on coaching, counseling, disciplining or terminating an employee. How we communicate the action/decision can have an impact.