Here are our top tips.
Change your viewpoint
HR is a business function. It’s there to ensure compliance. Add value to the bottom line and to help operations people do their jobs better. Don’t do their jobs for them. Step into their shoes. You make a successful journey by looking at the map (or app) at place you want to arrive and work back from that. It’s the same with HR. Find out where the manager wants to be. Then you can consider whether that’s the best option, repercussions, risks and tactics.
Keep a record of any conversation you have with an employee about any disciplinary matter (whether informal and formal) or grievance. A problem may seem small at first, but it will come back to bite you later on if left unmanaged. If you have notes of what happened and have written to the employee to confirm what was discussed, you’ll be in a much stronger position to get where you want to go.
Don’t ignore poor performance
Poor performance is the single most common employment issue. Employees are expensive so don’t bury your head in the sand if an employee is not performing properly. Even minor under-performance has a negative impact on profit and your team. If you catch it early, it can often be fixed without too much fuss.
Nip problems in the bud
If I had a £5 for every time I’ve come across a situation where a manager has ignored a workplace employment problem for months (or years) I’d be a rich woman. As soon as you identify an issue investigate and deal with it. Trust me, it’s so much easier that way. Discipline is about correcting problems, not firing people. The sooner you deal with it, the more likely you are to be able to rescue the situation. And if an employee has no intention of meeting and maintaining your standards, let’s be honest, the sooner you part company the better.
Before taking any corrective action, investigate to find out what’s going on. This means taking a holistic look at the facts and then deciding if you need to deal with it informally or formally. Sometimes it’s neither. Recently we advised in the case of two people who worked in the same department and just didn’t get on. There was an incident between them, but it turned out they’d both been somewhat to blame and it seemed like a spat which had just blown a bit out of control. Both were upset. Both were grinding their teeth and lodging grievances. We had a discussion with both to see if we could achieve a working agreement. So far, so good.
Act quickly, sanction softly
If an employee hasn’t responded well to an informal approach get formal. Only have one or two informal conversations, then show you mean business. Where it’s wise to show leniency is in the sanction. Properly consider not just the offence and the facts, but any mitigation too. Give the benefit of the doubt as regards the sanction and err on the side of caution.
Follow your disciplinary procedure
The single biggest reason or employers losing at tribunal is failure to follow your procedure. Read it before you start any disciplinary action. Then follow it to the letter.
Take advice before you shoot yourself in the foot
So many managers make mistakes and then it takes ages to bail them out of trouble. A commercial view is not necessarily the view an employment judge would make, so before you do or say anything that can come back to bite call us. We are always here to help you get things right!
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From all the Russell HR team, we wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas.
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