The right way to discipline employees

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

By Henry Brown

There could come a time when running your small business that you find yourself at a very difficult point. You’ve been reviewing things in your business, and you discover that a certain employee has not been performing up to scratch. In fact, they are underperforming consistently and dragging your company down with them.

On a similar note, you may also face times when an employee (or employees) is guilty of breaking certain rules. Perhaps they’ve been reported for harassment by another member of staff, or maybe you’ve seen they keep taking time off or turning up late.

Dealing with these situations can be challenging as you have to discipline your employees. But there are right and wrong ways of doing this. Today, we’re focusing on the right way to discipline your employees…

Gather the facts

Before you talk to the employee, you need to gather all the facts relating to the situation. If it’s a performance-based issue, you need hard evidence and data that explain why you are disciplining them. Similarly, if it’s another issue, you need facts to help you figure out what to do.

Gathering the facts will also benefit them as it shows them why they are being disciplined. They may not like what’s happening or feel it is unfair, but you have some facts to point at to explain why you have come to this decision.

Do it in private

The worst thing you can do is discipline someone in public. It makes them the center of attention and will only lead to a worse reaction. Your employee may feel humiliated on purpose, which could force them to behave even more erratically or take legal action.

Instead, do everything in private. If you have your own office within your workplace, bring them in. It’s always a good idea to make this area as private as possible for situations like this. The walls should ideally be soundproof, and you can get commercial window film placed on any glass windows to stop people from seeing inside. It gives you a nice and quiet place to talk things through, free from everyone else’s eyes and ears.

Remain calm

Don’t lose your temper when you have to talk to an employee. Even if you are sickened by what they have done, you have to remain as calm and composed as possible. Losing your temper will only attract attention and could provoke a response out of them. Just focus on the facts, explain exactly what is going to happen and why it is happening, then give the employee a chance to speak if they have anything to say.

Of course, you also need to understand what sort of disciplinary action is warranted. It’s hard to say as it can depend on the situation. For performance-based concerns, it is usually best to give them a warning first. Perhaps implement a strike system and tell them that this is their first strike, two more and they are out. You lay the stakes for them and make it clear what will happen if the behavior continues.

For anything relating to assault, it is best to suspend the individual while you conduct an investigation or fire them if the facts are clear. Stuff like this needs to be taken seriously.

The wrong way to discipline an employee is to shout at them in front of everyone before you have received all the facts. This is a recipe for disaster and will cause much strife within your business.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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