There are many things that go into making a successful business, from effective advertising to getting the best products for consumers, but all of them ultimately tie back to the employees. They are the face of the business and therefore need to have a system of solid policies in place so that operations can run smoothly and coworker relationships are positive. Unfortunately, no matter how many safeguards you implement, you are eventually going to have some workers who simply do not work well within these systems and cause trouble for the rest of the employees and, by extension, the entire company. To that end, it is crucial that you have the best tools to correctly handle incidents, such as theft, with strong disciplinary action.
Articulate Your Expectations
The best disciplinary business policies are the ones that actively discourage poor behavior from taking root in the workplace at all. In order to accomplish this, you need to make sure that each one of your employees has a clear understanding of what is expected in terms of attitudes toward one another and toward customers. If you commend workers who abide by these expectations, you reinforce the value you place on them while also subtly showing that you believe in your policies. By following your own rules, you foster a sense of respect that works against insubordinate behavior.
Accessibility to Expectations and Disciplinary Policies
Verbally informing your workers of the approach you want them to take in their work is great for demonstrating your firm belief in your policies, but you should also put these rules into written form. Not only do your expectations need to be in this document, but the consequences for violating any policies need to be included as well. This again feeds into the idea of preventing counterproductive behavior while also giving you something concrete to point to if and when you do need to discipline someone. Be sure that you keep the language of this writing general in nature, however, as too much specificity can come back to bite you when you need to address a violation.
Addressing Problems Head-On
The worst thing you can do for the credibility of your workplace behavior rules is to avoid taking action when one or more of them are violated by an employee. However, performing disciplinary action for serious offenses can be an emotionally taxing time for everyone involved. Here are a few ways to keep your actions professional, decisive and effective.
- Maintain Privacy. At one point or another, you’ve probably seen a business owner or manager disciplining or berating one of his or her employees in front of customers and other workers. This is a huge mistake for several reasons. It encourages the spreading of gossip around the workplace, discourages some customers from returning to your business and further ingrains feelings of animosity within the person being reprimanded. All of these ultimately inhibit overall productivity. Instead, talk privately with the individual and address the situation with a level head.
- Don’t Beat Around the Bush. When you know that a rule has been violated, there is no reason to hold off punishment. This only causes your other employees to question your resolve and may indeed allow the bad behavior to spread. Additionally, tackling the problem immediately allows you to get a quick read on whether the offending individual is really willing to change for the good of the company.
- Be Honest. There is no need for you to soften the blow when you confront a misbehaving employee. Keep the private meeting focused on what the problems are and make some suggestions for how the employee can fix them.
A Firm Hand
The most important thing you can do with regard to laying out your expectations and disciplinary policies is to be unafraid to enforce them. If an employee is truly worth keeping, he or she will make changes and the business will move forward.
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