Employee Discipline Is A 360° Approach
Many companies approach employee performance reviews with a 360-degree view.
That’s the process where the company factors in viewpoints from other managers, colleagues, customers and even the employee themselves to gain a more accurate picture of the individuals’ true performance. By using this method, companies avoid both the “halo” and the “horns” effect where the most recent behavior skews the overall performance up or down. It also provides a more objective (though not always) assessment of the person’s actual performance across the company.
While companies focus on performance reviews in this manner, many of the same companies don’t use this approach when dealing with staff disciplinary action. Many times, these sensitive yet vital interactions have a narrow approach weighed by the following factors:
- A single disgruntled customer
- A manager who has an agenda regarding the person or position
- An opportunistic colleague wishing to marginalize their co-workers
- A situation in which only one side was presented
- Looming staff reduction initiatives that make severe disciplinary actions easier
- Upper management disdain for being held accountable themselves
When these and other variables enter into the disciplinary process, the entire credibility of those involved becomes tainted. This includes the manager involved, HR, and any other parties who rush to action without the necessary fairness offered in the review process.
While performance reviews and disciplinary action may seem like two different issues, the end game is the same: addressing aspects of an individual’s work in order to enable them to improve and become more valuable to the team. Disciplinary action should always be kept with this goal in mind; leaders should use this as a tool to develop, not beat down, an employee.
That’s where the same 360-degree process helps here. By getting the entire landscape of an issue, the organization can make the best and fully informed decision in order to validate and qualify any issues, then address them with the vision of staff development and supporting the company’s culture and core values.
Many times this process will still yield that same corrective action to a staff member. But oftentimes, it will reveal one of the above factors and show that the staff member did nothing wrong to begin with. There have been many examples where a manager or HR person has reflected after disciplinary measures were acted upon only to realize they had a wrong view of the situation. By then, they have diluted their credibility and perhaps the engagement of certain staff members from an unfair process of dealing with that individual. Continued dealings with employees in this manner will create devastating effects for the organization, including divisive teams, disengagement, and low morale, not to mention the constant fear of employees watching over their shoulders each day.
In order for a 360-degree review in employee reprimands to be effective, the entire leadership and HR team must be aligned, humble, and above board in their dealing with their staff. Every person’s input, especially the leaders, must be scrutinized to ensure objectivity based on facts and not emotions. This means that leaders themselves must be open to any issues they create with unclear expectations, lack of training, or personality quirks that taint their attitudes towards any staff person. The team must act with integrity for this process to mean anything.
Your employees deserve to be treated fairly in all dealings. By making sure you value them before any disciplinary process is started, you can have a more assured outcome of fairness and an ability to keep a valuable staff person on as a key team asset. If in those cases that separation is warranted, you have also ensured you’ve dealt with the utmost of fairness and legality, as well as within the ethics of the workplace.