of the most essential tools of management when it comes to
directing the activities of personnel is the written reprimand.
First, it gets the attention of an employee who has great potential
for your business but who needs to shape up. Many times a written
reprimand will get the employee’s attention in a way that
mere words cannot.
This reprimand, except in the most severe
of cases, should not, however, be the first step in correcting
behavior. Verbal warnings come first. The number of these verbal
warnings depends on the severity of the problem and your lenience.
Note, though, you must document the verbal warnings in the employee’s
personnel file. If the matter becomes more serious, you will
need this data. The written reprimand should mention the verbal
warnings that preceded it.
How to Create a Written Reprimand
What should go into the written reprimand?
Obviously, it needs to be clear and to the point. Plainly state
what behaviors you
are reprimanding. It should include a signature line for the
employee to sign proving the employee saw it. There must be no
question the employee involved does not understand the nature
of the reprimand and the consequences if he or she repeats the
behavior. Take your time composing the letter of reprimand; you
should never write one "on the fly" or in the heat
How should you present the written reprimand
to the employee? Clearly you should do this in private, giving
the employee opportunity
to vent his or her feelings. In no instance, should you discuss
it with other employees. Be prepared to listen to the employee’s
response to the reprimand. It may not be the contrite attitude
you would wish; the employee may respond in anger. Also be prepared
for a sudden resignation. In that event, you need to be ready
to follow good procedures for termination. In the heat of such
a moment, you cannot afford to neglect important items like collecting
any keys or business property in the employee’s possession.
If the written reprimand does not change
behavior, you can use it as documentation. It proves you made
substantial efforts to correct an unacceptable situation. Such
documentation will be invaluable if the employee files a labor
dispute claim against the business. However, always consider
this type of reprimand as a tool for improvement first rather
than a means of ridding your business of a difficult employee.
right way to fire an employee. Fair and legal.