Managers have a big responsibility. All eyes are on them. All employees are looking on, judging. So how should a manager behave when it comes to extra-ordinary management activities like a disciplinary scenario?
Deciding when to invoke formal disciplinary proceedings against an employee is critical. It marks the point when normal management activities have failed.
It’s normal to encourage, chastise and discipline.
But sometimes informal proceedings don’t work. Managers must escalate to another level. The employee doesn’t seem to be getting it. Something more forceful is needed to correct the repeated misdemeanours.
This idea of shifting up a gear is important. Staff are watching and those involved must see that normal management has failed.
That failure of normal management must be obvious before formal procedures are invoked.
It must be no surprise to the employee when their manager invites them to a formal meeting. Transgression against the norms of behaviour and performance should be obvious. If it comes as a surprise, normal management activities have not been executed correctly.
Generally there will have been some informal investigation into the allegations made by managers or others. Witness statements will have been gathered. A clear assertion that the company’s disciplinary code has been breached must have been made.
There must be no entrapment, no trumped-up charges and no subterfuge. This stage is just an extension of normal management activities.
And there must be a clear link between the assertions made and definitions of misconduct or gross misconduct taken from the employee’s employment contract and the firm’s employee handbook.
Disciplinary action is an extension of normal management activities. And all eyes are on the manager.
What matters is due process. Normal management activities must have failed. Allegations must have been honestly discovered. There must be a clear link between alleged transgressions and required company behaviours.
If due process is followed, the manager’s integrity will be maintained. Otherwise, the psychological contract is weakened. The result is reduced commitment to the firm and heightened intention to quit from all.
Managers engaging in poor process should place a diary note for three months after disciplinary and worry about claims of constructive or unfair dismissal.