Employee management

One Step Forward or Two Steps Back? Effective Progressive Discipline

October 18, 2018

It’s Friday morning before the long weekend, and you’re looking forward to a quick workday. When you arrive to work, you find an unexpected notice. The employee you let go last month has made a claim of wrongful dismissal. You wonder how this can be; you provided the employee with a verbal warning, then a written warning, followed by a three-day suspension before they were terminated. Surely, you’ve done enough to cover yourself legally, right?

Progressive discipline is a great management tool when used effectively. Unfortunately, two steps are often missed during the coaching stage: support and facilitation. Going through the motions is not enough—employers need to actively engage in the process. The intent of progressive discipline is to provide employees with opportunities to modify or correct inadequate performance and behaviour. Without actively supporting employees and facilitating opportunities for performance improvements, that purpose is undermined.

Here are three reasons why progressive discipline matters:

1. It gives employees a chance to correct poor performance or behaviour and builds the skills of the workforce.

2. Progressive discipline benefits the company’s bottom line. Hiring and training new employees is costly and time-consuming, so it makes sense to help existing employees reach the appropriate level of performance.

3. Progressive discipline practices can protect an employer in a legal dispute—as long as they’re effective and fair.

Progressive discipline is more than a documentation and paper trail exercise. When properly implemented, it can benefit employees and employers alike. Taking constructive action to correct poor performance reflects a culture of learning and support. It also boosts employee morale by showing employees they are respected and valued.

Most of the time, employees don’t deliberately perform below standard. Poor performance is often a result of a contributing factor like a misunderstanding or a lack of consistency. By providing an actionable plan, the employee can correct their actions. Want to learn more? Download our FREE Deciphering Progressive Discipline Guide, which provides advice on how managers can improve their progressive discipline process through effective coaching, active support, and facilitating employee performance.

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