Are Disciplinary Write-Ups Really Effective?

Something happened recently that really made me evaluate my values as a leader and how I view the relationship between job performance and disciplinary action.  While I believe there are cases where disciplinary action is necessary (e.g. stealing, violence, etc.), I question the validity of using disciplinary write-ups as a way to address poor job performance.  In fact, it reminds me of being back in second grade where teachers used to give you demerits for talking while they’re talking or not raising your hand before calling out the answer.

So do write-ups actually improve job performance?  Maybe temporarily because employees fear they
will lose their job, but are the effects long-term? 

The bottom line is that if one of my employees is failing, I’m failing as their manager.  It is my job
to take the time and effort to understand the problem, whether it be lack of training, personal issues, etc., and then coach the employee to improve their performance.  We all make mistakes, we all have areas we can improve upon so let’s talk about them and figure out a plan of action.

To me, writing up an employee is like saying, “I’ve given up on you, and now I’m managing you out of here.”  Is that really the message we want to send to our employees?

Please contribute your thoughts to this discussion.  Are disciplinary write-ups an effective tool for poor job performance or a way for managers to avoid the real issues?


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