A manager has many responsibilities and one that they may not enjoy as much as others is taking disciplinary action. Disciplinary action is usually the last resort, outside of termination, that a manager will take. However, disciplinary action must be taken with caution and a process must be followed, almost without fail, unless the situation is exceptionally obvious, and even then, some process must be in place. Here are a few ideas to consider when management decides if disciplinary action is necessary:
1) Investigate the claim! A manager should talk to everybody who was present at the time the incident happened or anybody that may have knowledge about the incident. Facts are what make the case and if many people agree and say the same thing, that is probably what happened. However, the manager’s job is not just to take someones word for it, but investigate himself.
2) Question several people, and then the possible guilty person! When the manager calls in a few people, then the guilty party, and then a few more people, the guilty one may not think he is suspected and it will give him the understanding that this is a fair way of handling the matter. Question 75% of the office if there are less than 20 people working and more than 20, question 30 percent or more depending on time. This will prevent possible accusations of dislike from the manager towards the individual that did wrong.
3) Call the individual in a second time along with an assistant manager to witness the interview! This second person verifies that everything is being handled right because when there is a one on one situation, the accused can make up any story to try and turn the tables out of revenge. When interviewing the individual, compliment him on his work performance and he things that he does well and then go into the facts. Decide from the facts and consider the individuals testimony, whether or not disciplinary action needs to be taken. Based on facts and what the individual, it should be open or shut. The worse case scenario is to take a few days and think it over.
4) If disciplinary action is required, go by the policy! Managers should never let friendship or lack of play a part in the punishment. Policy is policy and if policy doesn’t dictate the punishment, then the manager should go to the higher manager and confer with them. If no punishment is required, then the manager should do nothing. Whatever the case may be, the incident should never be brought up again by management after guilt or innocence is pronounced.
Managers have a tough time being disciplinarians as this is just one part of their job that is not the most fun. However, sometimes it is called for to make a discipline type decision.