An important role of the manager is to discipline their staff. Disciplining can relate to performance related tasks or it can relate to the more serious issue of misconduct. Misconduct is considered to be a more serious matter and needs to be treated differently compared to performance issues.
When misconduct occurs it means that there is a problem with the employee’s attitude and behaviour towards their job. Misconduct can be put into two categories. The first one is serious misconduct and this can be for example, a member of staff who consistently comes in late for work in the morning. The other category is gross misconduct. This is more serious and if not resolved this situation can lead to the employee being dismissed. Gross misconduct can involve verbal abuse, stealing and even violence.
When it comes to misconduct the consequences can be swift and severe. It is important that it is made clear that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated. Every organisation should have a disciplinary procedure. Each organisations procedure can have different levels of warnings before a dismissal is given. At a minimum there should be at least two warnings before an employee is dismissed when there has been no improvement in their behaviour. However, if the case is a gross misconduct issue then, dismissal may have to be the immediate result.
The process of a disciplinary procedure uses an incremental approach with each warning more serious than the one before it.
1. Verbal warning
This is the first stage and can be used to communicate to staff that their behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. For the majority of misconduct issues a verbal warning is sufficient to change and correct the employee’s behaviour. However, if the behaviour does not improve and continues then, you move to the next stage.
2. First written warning
The employee is given a written confirmation of their warning with a clear statement that if the behaviour continues the situation will become more serious.
3. Second written warning
If they do not respond to the first written warning they are given a second one.
4. Final written warning
If both the last two written notices are ignored then a final warning will be given. The final warning is the last throw of the dice before a suspension are dismissal is given.
When an employee ignores all the written warnings or a they have been implicated in a serious situation then that person may need to be suspended and the case investigated.
This is the last resort when repeated warnings are ignored. However, it can become the first and only option if the misconduct is very serious and beyond reproach.