One of the responsibilities of managers and supervisors is to make sure that every employee follows company rules and regulations. A written reprimand is given to an employee who violated the policies and procedures or whose performance is below standards. It will also serve as reference for future reprimands. The following tips will help you understand when to use this measure and how to create a professional, yet effective, letter.

Take your time: Don’t let temper affect your judgement. Carefully review the employee’s actions and performance. It’s recommended to have a conversation with the employee in question before giving a warning letter. Talking with the person will allow you to have a better knowledge of the problem.

Identify the problem: For the letter to be effective, you need to clearly describe the situation/circumstances and its impact to the company. Make sure to include actual facts of its effects such as project delays, item refunds or customer complains.

Performance improvement: Let the employee know what steps s/he should take to correct the problem, as well as what the company expects of them. It’s easier if there is a set of guidelines so employees can self-evaluate and avoid future recurrences of the transgression.

Sanctions It’s important to establish the consequences of the misconduct. Be flexible with your statements, and use phrases like, “Failure to improvements may result in severe disciplinary actions.” This will give you more alternatives when dealing with the problem again.

Talk with the employee: Meet with the individual to discuss the situation. Go over the letter with him/her and explain why the company is taking such measure. The presence of a human resources representative is necessary to witness and document the discussion. Having another person in the room may startle the employee, but it’s a precaution companies should take to avoid false accusations, especially legal conflicts.

Remember to ask the person to sign the letter, and let them know that s/he has the right to present his/her side in writing. If the person doesn’t want to sign, write “refused to sign” on the employee’s signature and ask the HR representative to sign and date the letter. Keep the original on the employee’s personnel file and give a copy to the worker.

If the employee effectively improves and doesn’t commit the transgression for at least six months, attach a letter to the person’s file acknowledging the improvements and the willingness of the employee to accept suggestions. Employees will highly appreciate it when their faults are not the only ones recognized, but also their progress in the aftermath.

Disciplinary letters are a necessary evil, it’s not easy for a manager or business owner to do so, but avoiding the problem can cause more harm to the company than to confront it head-on. Be polite and stick to the facts. Deal with the issue with professionalism and tact. The employee will understand and do his/her best to do the necessary adjustments.


V. Sanchez | DBPC

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