Always Have 2-on-1 for Employee Discipline
Steven Cesare, Ph.D.
The other day, a business owner from the state of Minnesota contacted me to discuss an employee disciplinary issue. In general, the owner had some of the fundamentals completed correctly: behavioral documentation, an appropriate disciplinary form, and reminded the supervisor how to conduct a disciplinary meeting consistently, fairly, and proportionately.
While I was pleased with the owner’s arrangement, I suggested that all employee discipline procedures (e.g., verbal warning, written warning, suspension, termination) be conducted in a 2-on-1 format, with a supervisor and witnesses representing the company and the employee receiving the discipline.
By having a silent witness present, the company takes a proactive stance on several areas: the witness can verify the disciplinary process was conducted with integrity, prevents the possible lawsuits or grievances associated with “he-said/he-said” disagreements, and creates an organizational culture of accountability and consistency regarding performance management.
The role of the witness is simply as a silent observer. The witness is not there to “gang-up” on the employee; but simply to ensure that all documentation related to the disciplinary process is observable, honest, and verifiable. By taking this additional and secondary step of including a silent witness to all disciplinary meetings, the company is minimizing the possibility of any spurious employee claims of harassment, discrimination, and/or wrongful termination.
If you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything else related to human resources, simply call me at (760) 685-3800.
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