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- Base your reprimand on production, company policy and law. For example, if you find out a young man who works for you is visiting strip clubs on Saturday evening (outside of work), well, it's really none of your business (as a boss). It might become your business if he started bringing your customers to same clubs ...
- Don't play games. You are boss, just be boss.
- Stay ethical yourself. It's pretty silly for a boss to be delivering a reprimand to someone about drinking on job if, say, he's doing cocaine in back room each night before going home.
- Deliver reprimand as soon as possible. The longer you wait, worse situation is going to get. Remember, in this universe, things tend to get worse if they are left unhandled, not better.
- Keep your cool and be as unemotional as possible. Remember, your goal is to correct a behavior, not belittle a person or make them feel bad (or even good for that matter) or anything like that. You simply want to tell them something needs to be corrected and you want them to correct it.
- The correction should be immediate. For example, if employee comes in an hour late on Monday and you tell them to come in on time from now on, and on Tuesday they are late again, then up ante and deliver a stronger, more formal reprimand. It's usually not a good idea to give someone "some time" to fix a problem or correct their behavior.
- Don't necessarily start off "hard", especially if employee is normally doing good work. You can start off with a question: for example, "I noticed you've been taking a two hour lunch last three days, what's up with that?" If employee has a valid reason, well, so be it. Otherwise, tell him it's not acceptable.
- Modify your "hardness" to employees productivity. Productive employees should always get far more slack than non-productive ones. If, for example, a traditionally difficult employee was late for work I'd probably start off reprimand with a blunt statement "work begins at 9am and you need to be in at 9am". On other hand, a productive employee might get a "hey, I noticed you are coming in late - what's up with that?"
- An exception to above advice, however, is any kind of harassment. An employee has a right to expect a safe work environment. At first sign of any kind of racial, sexual, religious or similar harassment, you MUST immediately send whole matter over to your personnel department. Believe me, you want to handle these kinds of issues fast - and you want your personnel department dealing with them. For example, if a female employee tells you (or you find out) that she's being sexually harassed, then don't even question her any further - get her sitting down in front of appropriate person in personnel NOW (or do whatever your company policy says to do - to letter).
Let's say, for example, that you are in a meeting and you notice "George" give a "more than friendly pat" to "Tina" on way out. Or perhaps, in same meeting, you observe "Sam" make a racial slur about Arabs to an Arab employee. Report these IMMEDIATELY, regardless of whether or not you supervise these people. There is NO PLACE IN THE WORKPLACE for this kind of behavior.
- Treat everyone same. Let's say, for example, that you are not particularly fond of Martians, but you happen to have a Martian working for you. Treat person as you would any other person and ignore his green skin. The point is simple. Outside of work you, boss, can be as prejudiced as you want. At work, you have to treat them all same, regardless of what you think. And, by way, that's law (at least it's law in United States).
- Don't buckle to their excuses and emotions (unless backed by facts). If you tell person he cannot come back to work drunk, then don't fall for tears and sad-story about how stressful work is and how they need to relax or something during lunch. Sure, work is stressful, but getting drunk at lunch and spending rest of day being silly and unproductive is still not appropriate.
- On other hand, don't be a complete hard case. Let's say Sam is late for work and you take him aside and tell him it's not appropriate. Sam tells you, well, his mother is sick and he has to deal with her in morning. Now you have solid facts and you can change to match situation. Work with Sam to come up with an appropriate solution. Perhaps he needs to come into work at 10am and leave at 7pm for a month?
- Be aware of law before you deliver reprimands, as you investigate, and while you are delivering reprimand. For example, say Jane's productivity has been falling off and you investigate. You talk to her and find out she has asthma, and she has trouble working because air conditioner is throwing dust into her face. Well, there are laws about Americans with Disabilities, and you must make a reasonable effort to make it possible for her to work. Period. So, if you find this out, reprimand must change into a "what can we do to make it possible for you to be productive" meeting. It may be that you can salvage a good employee simply by adding a filter to air conditioning for a few hundred dollars!
The point is very simple. You are boss - act like it. If you find out someone is doing something wrong, then deal with it - immediately.
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at http://www.internet-tips.net - Visit our website any time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.