101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems
A Guide to Progressive Discipline & Termination
Author: Paul Falcone
Pub Date: July 2017
Print Edition: $39.95
Print ISBN: 9780814438558
Page Count: 480
Format: Paper or Softback
Edition: Third Edition
e-Book ISBN: 9780814438589
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Why Is It So Hard to Write Up Employees?
It’s simply a fact that in today’s legal system, companies that discharge employees will, if challenged, have an obligation to prove that they made affirmative efforts to rehabilitate those employees before reaching the ultimate decision to terminate. When confronted by an arbitrator or scrutinized by a jury, companies need to show that they had no alternative but to separate an individual who refused to accept the organization’s invitations to improve his or her performance. Without such proof, the company can find itself liable to the former employee for back pay, job reinstatement, and, potentially, punitive damages. To make matters worse, those punitive damages could in certain circumstances be levied against the manager personally (should that individual be deemed to be working “outside the course and scope of his employment”).
This book shows you how to construct documents that are both tough and fair. Traditionally,
there are problems that managers face when they confront employees regarding their behavior: How will the employee take the news? Will confrontation make matters worse? What if the employee stays “clean” only long enough to get past the active time frame of the disciplinary write-up?
In addition, because the write-up is a legal document, there is a residual fear that what you put in writing can somehow come back to haunt you. For example, managers typically second-guess themselves when it comes to questions like: Can I write specifics? Am I violating this individual’s privacy? Is the employee’s problem somehow protected by one of the many worker protection laws like the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or workers’ comp discrimination rulings? What if there are numerous problems that don’t seem to be related to one another—can I move forward in the progressive discipline process by somehow bundling those disparate infractions together?
Managers have come to fear addressing even minor performance shortcomings until they become major impediments. By that time, the problems typically get so out of control that managers reactively initiate the disciplinary process in order to build a “paper trail” for a case against an employee as rapidly as possible. What magnificent advantages lie ahead for managers armed with the tools to proactively address minor concerns before they become major ones!
As an HR practitioner and university instructor, I’ve seen firsthand how companies go through the agony of reinstating poor performers with back wages and reintegrating those individuals into departments that have long since “healed” from the original terminations. And although no system can guarantee that a company will win every wrongful termination challenge, a write-up template that invites employees to involve themselves in their own improvement game plan and that clearly outlines the company’s affirmative efforts to help those employees better themselves will go a long way toward fending off litigators’ attacks.
What Are the Benefits of Reading This Book?
This book provides a structured format that ensures that all the legal theory steps contained in other books on employee relations get carried out consistently in daily practice. That consistent application will build your confidence in the documentation process, save time, and minimize the liability inherent in one of the hottest topics in business today: employee performance management and termination.
It is important to build a foundation upon which communication can thrive. That constant focus on opening the lines of communication is what makes this approach different. So what will the employee warnings in our proposed format accomplish?
First, they will structure disciplinary meetings in a way that forces bilateral communication between you, the supervisor, and your subordinate. Discipline will no longer be a one-sided prejudgment in which the employee steps into the room, “takes his whacks” after having been determined guilty, and then returns to work disgruntled and disheartened. In addition, the language and tone of our samples are personal and concise, making it easier for you to deliver difficult news in a fair and direct way.
Second, they will prompt managers and supervisors to involve themselves in their employees’ rehabilitation by indicating positive (as well as the traditional negative) consequences and by providing training, resource materials, and a commitment to open communication.
Third, they will encourage employees to involve themselves in their own performance improvement. To this end, the write-up paradigm in our samples includes a personal improvement plan (PIP) so that employees can assume responsibility for their own actions; this shifts the responsibility for performance improvement to the employee and away from the company.
Could this proactive and optimistic approach of ours still end with employee termination? Of course. But only if the employees themselves willfully and repeatedly refuse to adhere to established and reasonable standards of performance and conduct. This disciplinary system has two equally important goals: to rehabilitate poor performers and to terminate problem employees legally.
How the Book Is Structured
This book has been designed for easy reference so that you can pull it from your shelf right before or immediately after a disciplinary meeting with one of your employees in order to construct a well-written disciplinary notice. The initial five chapters address the structure and format of the write-up template that’s used in all the samples. Consequently, you can refer back to Chapters 1 through 5 when you’re looking for that right word, expression, or phrase while composing one of your own disciplinary memos.
The online link contains the complete write-ups for all the examples in this book. To highlight for you the critical areas that differ from write-up to write-up, we’ve shortened the sections of the write-ups in the book that remain the same. You can view or print the full write-up at any time from the online resource. In addition, to save you the time of re-creating the template from scratch, Figure 6-1, a blank template, has been included in the online resource so you can download it to your computer immediately.
Excerpted from 101 SAMPLE WRITE-UPS FOR DOCUMENTING EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE PROBLEMS, 3RD EDITION: A Guide to Progressive Discipline & Termination by Paul Falcone. Copyright © 2017 by Paul Falcone. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.
All rights reserved. http://www.amacombooks.org.
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