Everybody has seen the long walk of doom. You know, the one where the manager tells the employee "I need to talk to you privately" and leads the employee straight into HR. You are walking the plank, everyone knows it and all parties involved hate it.
I'd like to propose that HR folks change their dreaded disciplinary meeting into a performance improvement meeting. It may seem like semantics to some, but I really think that it is a change of mindset. A disciplinary meeting is negative: You broke the rule, here are the consequences, sign this paper. Then the employee walks out with his head hanging low. A performance improvement meeting, however, is more positive and is focused on improving performance instead of negative consequences.
1. State the Goal - Performance Improvement
2. State the Current Situation
3. State the Expectation
4. Discuss the Expectations with the Employee
5. Obtain agreement about Expectations and Consequences
6. End with a Positive Closing
Here's what it may look like...Imagine a manager asking the employee to come to HR to discuss performance improvement. When he sits down, the HR person tells the employee that the goal of this meeting is to improve performance. Huh? Let's talk about the facts of the situation, the reason for being here (attendance issues, inappropriate behavior, not meeting objectives, etc...). Then, state the expectation - what does the ideal or accepted behavior look like? It could be clocking in at 7 am daily, making 100 prospecting calls daily, or good customer service. The more objective the better. Next, discuss the expectation with the employee. The key is that the employee agrees that the expectation is reasonable for the business situation and that the employee has been told about this expectation so that this is not the first time that they have heard that they need to make 100 prospecting calls daily. Obtain agreement from the employee about the expectations and consequences, usually in writing. This is the same as in a disciplinary meeting, but the situation is more positive because you have discussed that the desired outcome is performance improvement, not termination as some employees may think.
Finally, close the meeting with a positive comment about wanting this person to be a productive member of our team.
I believe that most people want to do a good job and that performance improvement will happen by focusing on the desired outcome and retention. What do you think? Can a disciplinary meeting change to focus on performance improvement?