Handle Disciplinary Actions

Disciplinary actions don't have to be something to dread. Although they are not enjoyable, with a little preparation, you can make things smoother and easier for everyone involved.


  1. Make sure the action fits the violation.
  2. Have proof of the violation and any necessary documentation, e.g. orientation checklist, tape, proper disciplinary form filled out, etc.
  3. Know who was involved, what happened, where it happened, when the violation occurred, and how they violated the rules.
  4. Make sure you are consistent with previous similar occurrences in the company.
  5. Be discreet. Do this in private, not in front of co-workers or customers.
  6. You should have a witness/observer present, preferably a peer, of the same sex as the employee involved. The observer will not actively participate unless requested to do so.
  7. Get to the point quickly.
  8. Focus on the situation, issue, or behavior, not on the person. The employee is less likely to react emotionally and more likely to listen.
  9. Have the employee sign the appropriate paperwork.
  10. Offer suggestions on how they can correct the situation.
  11. Have a follow-up meeting with the employee in a set amount of time. Write it in on your calendar as a reminder. Let them know how they are doing, and hopefully praise them for correcting the problem.


  • Deal with minor problems as they occur and correct them before they warrant disciplinary action. You should not wait or save them up until they become a problem or until the next evaluation. Briefly document these incidents.
  • Make sure that all of your employees are aware of the rules and/or expectations that the company has of them. You can do this by using an orientation checklist or an employee handbook. Periodically revisit these expectations in team meetings or at evaluation times.
  • Treat all of your employees equally, so that if the occasion arises to do disciplinary action discrimination will not be a viable issue.


  • If the occasion arises where a disciplinary action is necessary, you should enter on a positive, get to the negative, and exit on a positive.

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