2 CHAPTER OVERVIEWThe chapter identifies common types of problem behavior among employees.Those most likely to be encountered by supervisors areabsenteeism and tardiness,insubordination and uncooperativeness,alcohol and drug abuse, andemployee theft.
3 There are two general methods discussed to help supervisors improve employee performance: counseling andthe discipline process.In addition; organizations may have an employee assistance program (EAP) to assist troubled employees.
4 CounselingCounseling helps employees solve their problems, which enables them to perform better at work.Supervisors should counsel employees when they need help in determining how to resolve a problem that is affecting their work.When employees have problems that supervisors are unqualified to help with, they should refer employees to a professional.
5 Counseling may involve directive counseling, in which the supervisor suggests solutions, ornondirective counseling, with the supervisor primarily listening and encouraging the employee to look for the source of the problem and identify possible solutions.
6 DisciplineIn administering discipline, the supervisor explains the significance and consequences of the employee’s behavior, then, if necessary, lets the employee experience those consequences.A typical process of discipline occurs in stages, with the supervisorfirst administering one or more warnings,then a suspension, demotion, andfinally dismissal.
7 The supervisor should administer discipline promptly, privately, impartially, and unemotionally. All disciplinary actions should be documented and placed in the employee’s file.
8 Positive discipline focuses on preventing problem behavior from ever beginning. It can includemaking sure employees know and understand rules,creating conditions under which employees are least likely to cause problems,using decision-making leaves when problems occur, andrewarding desirable behavior.
9 The goal of positive discipline is self-discipline among employees or employees who voluntarily follow the rules and meet performance standards.Supervisors who expect self-discipline from their employees must practice it themselves.
10 Discipline problems may be the result of personal problems, such as substance abuse. These employees are defined as troubled employees.
11 When the supervisor suspects that an employee is troubled, the supervisor should document the problem,then meet with the employee and describe the evidence of a problem,focusing on the employee’s performance at work.
12 The employee should then be referred to a professional for help and informed of the consequences of not getting help.Employees should be made aware that their job performance must improve.Follow up from the supervisor will be in terms of improved job performance.
13 To best help their employees, supervisors should learn about their organization’s procedures and resources for assisting employees.This may involve referring employees for help outside the organization or to the organization’s employee assistance program.
14 The supervisor may also seek the help of others in the organization. The supervisor’s boss and human resources department can help the supervisor handle problem employees in ways that followorganization guidelines,legal requirements, andthe union contract (if any).
15 A supervisor should discuss a problem employee with his or her boss, so that the boss can offer advice and provide necessary authorization for such steps as suspension or dismissal.
16 Common Types of Problem Behavior In general, problem employees fall into two categories:(1) employees causing problems,for example by starting fights or leaving early, and(2) employees with problems,such as an employee whose money worries are a distraction from work.
17 By handling such employees appropriately, the supervisor can help resolve the problem without hurting the morale or performance of the other employees.
18 When supervisors observe poor performance, they tend to blame the employee for lack of ability or effort.Both supervisors and employees tend to blame the organization or another person for not providing enough support when explaining their own poor performance.
19 To uncover the true source of a performance problem, the supervisor might consider the following issuesWhether the employee has performed better in the pastWhether the employee has received proper trainingWhether the employee knows and understands the objectives he or she is to accomplishWhether the supervisor is providing enough feedback and supportWhether the supervisor has encouraged and rewarded high performanceWhether other employees with similar abilities are performing well or experiencing similar difficulties.
20 The problems that supervisors most commonly encounter are absenteeism and tardiness,insubordination and uncooperativeness,alcohol and drug abuse, andemployee theft.
21 Absenteeism and tardiness This is an expensive problem.An absent employee may be paid for the time off, orreplaced with a less productive person.
22 Also, missing work is often a sign of a deeper problem. such as a family crisis,anger about something at work, orplans to leave the organization.
23 Insubordination and uncooperativeness Insubordination: Deliberate refusal to do what the supervisor or other superior asks.Poor performance may result from not understanding how to do something.This is corrected by training.Sometimes an employee performs poorly or breaks rules because he or she chooses to do so.This may be uncooperative behavior or deliberate refusal to do what he or she is told
24 Many kinds of negative behavior fall into the following categories: General poor attitudecriticizng,complaining, andshowing dislike for the supervisor and organizationMaking an art out of doing as little as possibleSpending most of the daysocializing,joking around, ormoving as slowly as possible
25 Regularly failing to follow rules forgetting to wear safety equipment orsign out at lunchtimeDisregard for supervisor’s instruction to do something,saying it will be done laterSarcastic, hostile, or passive behavior which may be a symptom of an underlying problem
26 Alcohol and drug abuseSome poor performance such as unsafe practices, sloppy work, or frequent absences may be a symptom of alcohol or drug abuse on or off the job.These employees are expensive to the organization.
27 They can hurt the organization by lower productivity. They are more likelyto quit,to cause accidents,to have a higher use of disability and sick benefits, andto increase insurance costs.
28 The supervisor should note that the federal antidiscrimination law treats substance abuse as a disability, and companies should encourage the employee to get help.Any actions taken with regard to the employee should focus on work performance, not on the substance abuse itself.
29 Since the supervisor is responsible for ensuring a safe workplace for employees and others, it means that if an employee’s suspected substance abuse is creating a hazard, the supervisor must act.
30 Employee theftEmployees take companies’ inventory, supplies, and money as well as “steal time” by giving the employer less work than they are paid for.A supervisor should take measures to prevent and react to theft.
31 In addition to organizational procedures, supervisors should carefully check the background of anyone they plan to hire.They should make sure that employees follow all procedures for record keeping.They should also build employees’ morale and involvement, make sure employees understand the costs and consequences of theft, and set a good example.
32 If a supervisor suspects an employee is stealing, he or she should report it to the boss and to the police or professional security consultants.
33 Poor performance related to drinking may be more difficult for a supervisor to confront than illicit drug use.Drinking is socially acceptable,problem drinking behavior generally is not well understood, and
34 the supervisor may sympathize with the employee who has a drinking problem. For example, a supervisor may overlook poor performance when he or she knows the employee is suffering from a hangover.To counteract this tendency, a supervisor must be aware and take action is not acceptable.In addition, supervisors should be aware of signs of drinking and drug use that can impair performance.
35 Counseling EmployeesIf the supervisor responds to problem behavior immediately, he or she will sometimes be able to bring the problem to a quick end without complex proceedings.
36 Often the most constructive way a supervisor can address problem behavior is through counseling, orlearning about an individual’s personal problem and helping him or her resolve it.
37 For simple problems, such as tardiness resulting from keeping late-night hours, calling the problem to the employee’s attention may lead to a solution without the supervisors help.For more complex problems, such as financial or substance abuse, the solution will be for the employee to get expert help.In either case, counseling is a cooperative process, with supervisor and employee working together.
38 Employee theft. Employees take companies’ inventory, supplies, and money as well as “steal time” by giving the employer less work than they are paid for. A supervisor should take measures to prevent and react to theft.
39 There are many reasons for stealing the company’s materials and time There are many reasons for stealing the company’s materials and time. Some of the reasons are related to personal problems, such as financial problems. Other reasons are related to attitudes toward the company and management. Some employees think the company owes them because they are underpaid or in some other way taken advantage of. Supervisors can help reduce theft if they are aware of employee attitudes and if they recognize and respect the employees’ contributions.
40 Counseling: The process of learning about an individual’s personal problem and helping him or her resolve it.
41 Counseling involves one or more discussions between the supervisor and the employee. These discussions are by nature a personal matter as well as a discussion of performance.These sessions should take place where privacy is assured and will be free from interruptions.Methods of approaching the session include directive or nondirective counseling
42 Directive Counseling: An approach to counseling in which the supervisor asks the employee questions about the specific problem;when the supervisor understands the problem, he or she suggests ways to handle it.Nondirective Counseling: An approach to counseling in which the supervisor primarily listens,encouraging the employee to look for the source of the problem and to propose possible solutions.
43 Directive CounselingThe most focused approach to counseling is directive counseling. Steps includeasking the employee questions about the specific problem,questioning and listening until he or she understands the source of the problem, andsuggesting ways to handle the problem.
44 If there is a specific program or benefit offered by the company, the supervisor can suggest the employee explores these options.
45 Nondirecdve Counseling The supervisor and employee will often find it most beneficial to help the employee develop and change, rather than to look only for solutions to a specific problem.In this approach, the supervisor primarily listens, encouraging the employee to look for sources of the problem and to propose possible solutions.Ideally, by working out their own solution, employees will find they have the ability to resolve their problem.
46 The Counseling Interview The counseling interview begins with a discussion of what the problem is.Because the counseling often takes place as a result of personal problems the employee is having, he or she may be emotional during counseling sessions.The supervisor should be prepared for emotional or angry outbursts by the employee.He or she should be calm and reassure the employee that emotions aren’t innately good or bad.
47 The next step is consideration of possible solutions and the selection of one to try. Rather than simply prescribing a solution, the supervisor can usually be more helpful by asking the employee questions that will help the employee come up with ideas of his or her own.When the supervisor and employee agree on a solution to be used, the supervisor should restate it to make sure the employee understands.
48 The interview ends with the supervisor scheduling a follow-up meeting. This should take place after just enough time for the employee to begin seeing some results.At this meeting, the supervisor will review their plans and discuss whether the problem has been or is being resolved.
49 Discipline:Action taken by the supervisor to prevent employees from breaking or continuing to break rules.Suspension:Requiring that an employee not come to work for a set period of time; the employee is not paid for the time off.Demotion: Transfer of an employee to a job involving less responsibility and, usually, lower pay.Dismissal: Relieving an employee of his or her job.
50 Discipline is action taken by the supervisor to prevent employees from breaking or continuing to break rules.In many cases, effective discipline can quickly bring about a change in an employee’s behavior.
51 Administering Discipline There is a distinction between discipline and punishment.Punishment is an unpleasant consequence given in response to undesirable behavior.Discipline is broader; it is a teaching process.
52 The supervisor explains the significance and consequences of the employee’s behavior, and then if necessary, lets the employee experience those consequences.Steps to administer discipline are usually dictated by company policy or union contract.The employee’s rights are usually spelled out in the same documents.
53 Discipline ProcessBefore taking any action, the supervisor needs to have a clear picture of the problems.He or she should collect the facts before proceeding.Then the supervisor should meet with the employee and ask for his or her version of what happened.When the supervisor observes and understands the facts behind problem behavior, disciplining the employee takes place in four steps.
54 Warning (1) A warning may be written or oral. Some organizations have a policy that calls for an oral warning, to be followed by a written warning if performance does not improve.The warning should contain what the problem behavior is,how the behavior affects the organization,how and by when the behavior is expected to change, andwhat actions will be taken if the employee’s behavior does not change .
55 The usual practice is to have the employee sign the warning as an indication that the situation has been discussed with him or her.If the employee refuses to sign, the supervisor should make a note of the refusal.
56 Suspension(2) A suspension involves requiring that the employee not come to work for a set period of time.The employee is not paid for this time off.The time period can be from one day to a month, depending on the seriousness of the problem.
57 Demotion(3) A demotion is transferring an employee to a job involving less responsibility and, usually, lower pay.Some employees find a demotion a relief if they performed poorly because the job was more than he or she could handle.More often it leads to negative feelings.
58 Dismissal (3) This is also called termination, or discharge. This will cost the organization in that it requires the organization to recruit, hire, and train a new employee.However, it may be necessary if an employee’s offense is serious or if he or she will not respond to other forms of discipline.
59 Types of behavior that may lead to dismissal include failure to correct problem behavior,deliberate damage of the organization’s property,fighting on the job, orengaging in dangerous practices.
60 In following the steps of the discipline process, the supervisor should keep in mind that the objective is to end the problem behavior.The supervisor need take only as many steps as are necessary to bring about a change in behavior.
61 Guidelines for Effective Discipline When an employee is causing a problem, the supervisor needs to act immediately.Ignoring the situation signals that the supervisor doesn’t consider the problem serious.As a result, the problem gets worse.The employee may increase the problem behavior, and other employees may follow his or her example.
62 When discussing the problem with the employee involved, the supervisor should focus on learning about and resolving the issue at hand.The supervisor should listen until he or she understands the problem, then begin discussing how to correct the problem in the future.Talk about behaviors instead of personalities.Avoid name calling and dredging up instances of past misbehavior.
63 The supervisor should keep emotions in check. It is appropriate to convey sincere concern about the problem, but other feelings are largely irrelevant and can stand in the way of constructive discussion.Being calm and relaxed when administering discipline tells the employee that the supervisor is confident of what he or she is doing.
64 Other guidelines for effective discipline include: keep the matter private, andbe consistent in administering discipline.
65 Documentation of Disciplinary Action Employees who receive discipline sometimes respond by filing a grievance or suing the employer.To be able to justify his or her actions, the supervisor must have a record of the disciplinary actions taken and the basis for the discipline.
66 Remember that performance appraisal records are available on the employee. These records may show that the employee’s performance is adequate for the same problem for which the supervisor is administering discipline.This is a good reason to make sure that the performance appraisal is fair and a true reflection of the employee’s performance.
67 Documentation is especially important when the supervisor must terminate an employee. The employee’s file should show the steps the supervisor took leading up to termination, and should include specific behaviors that led him or her to dismiss the employee.
68 Organizations usually have rules or guidelines for acceptable or unacceptable performance and behavior.The level of discipline is often included in the guidelines.Some behavior may result in immediate suspension or discharge without going through the other step listed in the text.
69 Examples that may result in immediate discharge include fighting with another employee orbehavior that has the potential of serious injury ordeath to one or more employees.
70 Before taking any action, the supervisor needs to have a clear picture of the problems. For this reason, an organization may include in its disciplinary steps a category called suspension pending discharge.This step is used to complete the investigation, although it appears that the behavior warranted discharge.
71 An example may be when two employees appear to be fighting. Both employees may be suspended immediately.If the investigation shows that only one employee was actually hitting the other employee, one of the employees may be terminated and the other employee will return to work
72 The supervisor should follow all guidelines for discipline. Sometimes this is different from our own ideas about what is fair.In the example of fighting described above, a supervisor’s sense of fairness may suggest that both employees must be at fault since it takes two to fight.One employee may have made a remark that irritated the other employee, resulting in that employee hitting the first employee.
73 This does not make them equally guilty and deserving the same punishment. The employee who made a remark or called the other employee an unacceptable name (unacceptable to that employee) may warrant some form of discipline, but it is the employee who hit another employee who warrants discharge.Employees are responsible for their own behavior. When that behavior is outside of what is acceptable, that employee will be disciplined accordingly.
74 Positive Discipline: Discipline designed to prevent problem behavior from beginning. Decision-making: Leave: A day off during which a problem employee is supposed to decide whether to return to work and meet standards or to stay away for good.