Streamlining Termination: 6 Steps to Successful Progressive Discipline

A fundamental principle of sound, progressive discipline is to take the minimum amount of action deemed necessary to remedy an undesirable situation. Incremental discipline is the process of taking increasingly strict procedures or actions when an employee fails to fix a problem despite being given a reasonable opportunity to do so. He usually has two reasons for reprimanding his employees.

Performance issues and cheating. Managers often cite the following behaviors when judging what appears to be poor employee performance or misconduct. Cheating is generally more serious because it is often deliberate and takes the form of defiance. In contrast, poor performance is mostly due to lack of education, skills and motivation. Performance problems can often be resolved through coaching and performance management, but cheating usually requires progressive discipline. In some cases, extreme misconduct may be grounds for immediate dismissal. The steps of progressive discipline are followed.

1. Written Warning

A written warning should be prepared if the problem cannot be resolved. The warning should include information, answers, and commitments from the oral counseling session. A statement that an oral discussion was held reviewing the employee’s background on this issue. Be sure to include the date the oral interview took place. A current statement, including a description of the current situation and statements or responses from employees. Be sure to include all the necessary details with a “who, what, when” model.

Forward-looking statements that describe your expectations and the consequences if the problem continues unresolved. This step can be repeated in the future with stronger result statements. So please clarify what the next steps are. For example, the statement may state that the situation “may lead to further disciplinary action” or provide a later warning that “this is a final warning and you will be terminated if you do not fix the issue.” you can say.

2. Conduct An Exit Interview

An often overlooked, but critical step in the checklist for leaving an employee is conducting an exit interview. Exit interviews are a unique opportunity to gain insight into an employee’s experience at the company and what can be improved in the future. An exit interview typically consists of a series of questions for the employee to answer. Ideally, these discussions should be face-to-face. However, it can also be conducted as part of a phone call or survey. These interviews ask questions about the employee’s experience with colleagues, job satisfaction, and suggestions for making the workplace more productive or enjoyable. But the most important part is the follow up. We will use the information collected during this process to make improvements and implement changes. This puts you on the road to success in terms of future recruitment, retention and overall employee satisfaction.

3. Change Employee Access


After collecting all necessary company assets, it is important to ensure that employees do not have access to company assets and resources. This includes changing the password for all accounts associated with the employee, disabling access cards, emailing her account, and other credentials that may be associated with the employee’s name. When and how access and logins are disabled should be respectful of employees. Your IT team should be notified in advance when to start revoking access. In some cases, when an employee is terminated involuntarily, the process may need to be expedited to minimize the risk of data theft or other malicious activity. Also, keep in mind that employees may need access to their computer or work account to delete personal information stored on their work device. Providing this kind of access is courtesy and should be done in accordance with privacy policies already in place.

4. Communicate

The importance of thorough and timely communication throughout the termination process cannot be overemphasized. Unfortunately, many companies don’t put this at the top of their list. Communicate with management, HR, payroll, and IT teams to ensure all exit processes are completed correctly and in the required order. All employees and, where applicable, customers must then be notified of the change and its impact on employees. Of course, keep in mind that it’s important to communicate all the details to your employees at each stage of the process. In doing so, they will feel valued, respected, and will have a clear understanding of the current situation.

5. Collect Company Property


Develop a plan to recover any company property that the employee may own before leaving the company.  Laptops, phones, access cards, future paystubs,  or files containing confidential information. Depending on the size of your company and the industry in which you operate, you may need to ensure that you follow the appropriate security protocols already listed in your employee handbook (hopefully!) when returning company property. For employees working remotely or out of the office, we recommend setting a schedule for returning company property and providing prepaid shipping boxes and labels as needed to streamline the process.

6. Termination


If the problem cannot be resolved with proper warning, the employee may have to be terminated. You may also want to fire the employee immediately before completing steps 1-7. Employment standards laws in most states provide for a three-month probationary period during which the employee may be terminated without notice for any reason. The only exceptions to dismissal during a probationary period are grounds considered discriminatory under human rights law, such as religious beliefs or nationality.

At the end of the probationary period, the employer must have good cause for dismissal or otherwise provide appropriate dismissal or severance pay. We recommend that you refer to your local labor regulations to see what constitutes “just cause”. Poor job performance is generally not considered justifiable unless a progressive disciplinary process has been followed and the employee has been given sufficient time to make improvements.

It is important to determine the appropriate level of discipline in any situation. In other words, “the punishment must be commensurate with the crime.”  Consistent discipline is important. How others have been treated for similar violations should be the primary basis for determining appropriate action. However, there are some factors that justify increasing or decreasing the level of discipline.

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