Sometimes issues may arise with the conduct or performance of one of your PAs. This may not be serious enough to require an immediate dismissal, in which case you can still take action to discipline the PA and address the issue. This helps to establish standards for all your employees and helps to protect yourself as an employer, having clear disciplinary records can help you avoid claims for wrongful dismissal.
Here are some tips to remember when disciplining employees:
• Make a record when you discipline an employee, this will help to keep things straight if you need to discipline more than one employee, have to escalate the issue and also serves as evidence if an employment tribunal is needed. (You can find an example of a Disciplinary Meeting Record in the Employee Records Section)
• Don’t make it a spectacle, take the employee to a private area or somewhere others can’t hear. Otherwise they are more likely to take it negatively and can become defensive.
• Take the time to describe exactly what the issue is and how you want them to improve. They may not have considered their behaviour an issue until you raised it, be clear about how they need to change.
• If they don’t improve then escalate. Don’t have numerous verbal discussions. If the behaviour continues, then escalate discipline from a verbal to a written warning.
• Apply the same standards to every employee. If you discipline one employee for consistently leaving work five minutes early, but don’t write up another employee who regularly leaves 10 minutes early, you are setting the wrong example.
• Give clear examples of how their behaviour is impacting you, “When you _________, I/other PAs have to ______”. Being clear about what the problem is will help the employee understand why their behaviour has to change.
• Don’t get emotional. During disciplinary proceedings you should not get angry or upset as this can cause a situation to go out-of-control. You don’t want a constructive meeting to turn into a shouting match.
We understand that disciplining employees is an uncomfortable experience, it is confrontational and can be difficult to criticise someone who is helping you. However, when the alternative is to allow poor conduct or performance to continue then you have to take that step.
You can also download the following guides on how to deal with disciplinary and dismissal procedures.