“Every mistake is an opportunity to learn.”
Let your employee know you appreciate them without any “but” or ‘however”. Otherwise why do they still have a job?
Let your employee know that “every mistake is an opportunity to learn.”
Let your employee tell their side of the story. Listen. Do not assume.
For some situations it could be one strike and you're out on the other hand always weigh an employee's value versus non-optimum behavior. In general discipline should be done on a gradient.
Until you are comfortable correcting employees, you can simply pull this policy out with your employee present and go through it step-by-step. You can even tell your employee that you too are always learning. When you’re done, ask them how you did!
Gradient # 1: Warning
- Review the written policy or rule in question with your employee. If the policy or rule is not in writing, it should be but, proceed anyway.
- Find out if there is anything in the policy or rule your employee does not understand or disagrees with. Who knows? Maybe they have a valid disagreement but, often it’s something they just do not understand. Help to get them to understand the purpose of the policy or rule.
- Make it safe for your employee to communicate freely.
- Generally, with good employees, all that is needed is a “warning”.
Gradient # 2: Reprimand
- For situations requiring additional action after a warning, prepare a written reprimand which reviews the facts of the situation, cites specific improvement that needs to be demonstrated within a clearly defined period of time. State the disciplinary action that will result if the improvement does not occur within the time designated.
- The written reprimand is signed by both the practice owner (or office manager) and your employee after discussing. Place the signed reprimand in your employee's personnel file.
Gradient # 3: Penalties
After a reprimand, depending on the severity of the offense, if there is insufficient improvement within the stated time, disciplinary action such as suspension without pay, demotion or dismissal may result. Make sure any such actions are legal for your state.
It is important to note that the severity of the offense may warrant not following the usual sequence of warning-reprimand-penalty so the disciplinary action taken may begin at any level. A reprimand, for example, could be given for a flagrant first offense and immediate dismissal could result in the case of major acts of misconduct such as embezzlement or dereliction of duty such as disappearing from work for a day or more without prior agreement.
Always document (see form below) policy or rule violations and place in your employee’s personnel file. Such documentation can come in handy if you later dismiss and your former employee files for unemployment.
STAFF CORRECTION FORM
Policy or rule violated___________________________
What circumstances resulted in this warning, reprimand or penalty?
What can your employee do to ensure the policy or rule will be followed moving forward?
Any suggestions your employee can give so the policy or rule is followed moving forward?
Employee Signature _____________________________
Practice Owner or OM____________________________
Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge’s senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at