In reading Jon Hyman’s most recent “What I Read This Week” (which, by the way, is an *awesome* resource if you haven’t seen it before), we came across this article on the “Three Best Practices for Terminating Insubordinates.” In the article, Stephen Meyer offers a three-step plan for terminating insubordinates: document; apply progressive discipline; and enforce consistently.
This is EXACTLY what we tell our clients (in fact, we know a couple of you reading right now have heard this quite recently!). Though it may seem pretty basic, the importance of following these steps cannot be overstated. Document, document, document. Many times we’ve seen clients terminate an employee they claim has been a problem employee for X number of days, weeks, or months, yet the employer cannot produce a single incident report, written warning, or even a note to the employee’s personnel file to support this claim. Those situations can be downright cringe-worthy for the lawyer who is faced with defending against a claim stemming from the termination.
While we certainly understand that dealing with problem employees and issuing disciplinary action is not exactly a fun part of any supervisor/HR professional’s job, it really is so important to head off problems when they first begin by following these steps. When you do this consistently, the employer will be in a much better position to terminate the insubordinate employee, and at the same time you will help minimize the employer’s risk of being sued.
Plus, you’ll make your lawyer proud!