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How to implement disciplinary action when none has been enforced

Every person who has ever been in charge of managing employees knows how difficult it is to implement disciplinary action. This can be especially hard, when none has been previously enforced. There are so many factors that play into these situations. It's hard to discover where the line is...when should disciplinary action begin to be enforced, and how do you know how to handle this difficult situation with tact? Some reasons that management members sometimes refrain from or put off implementing disciplinary action are because they are worried about appearing mean or overbearing. It is difficult to be in charge sometimes. The balance between friend and employer is tough.

Another reason discipline is put off sometimes is because employers are worried about a legal standpoint. When should discipline be enforced, and at what point do you let an employee go. The only way to overcome this is by making sure you understand your company's policies clearly. Before implementing any disciplinary action, contact your HR department to make sure you understand your specific policy, or if this is not a resource available to you, do some research on the labor laws in your state so that you know what is appropriate and what is not. Once you know if discipline is appropriate for your situation, here are some tips on how to implement action:
1. Before you begin implementing a new form of disciplinary action in your work place, make sure that you have a plan. Whether this new policy was crated for because of one employee, or the entire staff, it is important that you are consistent. Without your employees' firm knowledge of expectations and consequences they will be confused and resentful of the new discipline, worrying that it will affect them negatively in ways they don't understand. Make sure that you have solidified a plan that makes sense and have communicated it clearly to your staff.
2. Also, remember that although the policy may have been created because of problems with one of your staff members, once in place, it needs to apply to the entire staff. Do not play favorites. For example, if you are implementing a strict attendance policy because you have an employee who is consistently late for work, remember that the policy should apply to everyone. To make sure that you are addressing the actual issue of repeated tardiness, you may set in motion a policy which states that after three tardies, an employee will receive written documentation. If this is your policy, stick to it. You can't choose to oversee the behavior of one employee simply because they've never seemed to have problems in the past, while being strict with the policy for one who has. Employees will begin to notice these inconsistencies and your policy will not be taken seriously. It's important for your image as a leader, for legal reasons, and for your policy to remain effective, that you are constant with your disciplinary action.
3. Finally, remember to make sure that your policy is fair. Restricting your employees with too many pointless rules and regulations will create a horrible and less-productive work environment. If you decide that there is something you need to take a stand against, that is fine, and it can sometimes really help things out. However, sometimes it can just seem like another way to control your employees. Before you implement a new disciplinary action, make sure that you have really considered the consequences. Make sure that you have good reason to set this policy, and that having it in place will help your business.
Choosing when to implement disciplinary action is difficult, especially when none has been present. It can be difficult, but creating new policies can be very rewarding if you think things through thoroughly, make sure you are doing them for the right reasons, come up with a plan and remain consistent.

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