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The Ten Commandments of Employee Reprimands

Punishment is only a tool and must have a corrective purpose. To achieve the intended purpose, the manager must know how to administer punishment with a certain degree of finesse.

Therefore, the manager must be more than a little adept at the gentle (and not-so-gentle) art of chewing out an employee. Failing to understand this tactic — or being unaware of the potential problems that can arise — can seriously hinder the results. Here are the 10 most important rules managers must follow when reprimanding an employee.

Obviously, if you can obey these commandments, you will get far more mileage — and the desired corrective action — out of your disciplinary tactics. The physical setting for criticism needs to, of course, be one of complete privacy. The entire incident must be kept strictly confidential in order to insure the employee’s fullest cooperation, and thus, realize the best results.

  1. Thou shall be clear in explaining to the employee exactly what offense he or she is being reprimanded for committing.
  2. Thou shall listen to the employee’s point of view and to his or her interpretation or explanation of the facts.
  3. Thou shall not allow the employee to talk thee out of the required punishment.
  4. Thou shall maintain some record of what has occurred, why the punishment was given and what the next step will be if the matter is not corrected.
  5. Thou shall not nurse a grudge or otherwise “hold it against” the employee for forcing you to discipline him or her.
  6. Thou shall have a complete understanding of rules and will make them clear and understandable to others.
  7. Thou shall NOT ignore the seriousness of an offense nor any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
  8. Thou shall get all the relevant facts, and must not act on hearsay evidence instead.
  9. Thou shall not procrastinate in taking action against violations.
  10. Thou shall not “fly off the handle,” lose thy temper or otherwise act while not in control.