There are two sides to every job. The good and the bad. It feels good when you are promoting, awarding, or congratulating employees for a job well done. Unfortunately, there will be a time when you have to have “the talk” with one. It’s important to know how to handle mistakes that employees make. It’s up to you to set the discipline culture.
Get to the bottom of every problem: Why did the employee make the mistake? Who was involved? Was a supervisor present at the time? Was the employee asked to do something they weren’t trained to do? Have you heard from everyone involved?
Listen: Set aside time to actually listen to the person or people who made the mistake. By listening to the problem, finding a solution becomes easier. Finding a solution to an unknown problem is a waste of time and not an effective way to ensure that similar mistakes don’t happen again.
Have a conversation: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. There are two ways to approach discipline: With anger or with understanding. Odds are, if an employee is sitting in your office, they already know they have done something wrong. They don’t need a lecture or a play-by-play of what they did. They need direction, so that it doesn’t happen again. Have a chat, and try to make it as non-confrontational as possible.
Find the appropriate solution: Not every mistake an employee makes deserves a write-up. Sometimes additional training or letting an employee go is the solution. It’s important to recognize that there are levels of how severe a problem can be and how often that employee makes the same mistakes. The facts from the individual situation should be the driving factor on how to solve the problem. Handbooks do not spell out what to do in every situation that arises, so when a new problem arises it’s important to deal with it from a logical and reasonable place.
Employees will be much more receptive if you come to them in a respectful and professional manner. Fortunately, it is very simple to find proper solutions, and use setbacks as stepping stones.