Coaching Up or Out: Progressive Discipline in the Workplace

Blog Post created by 1016243 on May 23, 2016

What comes to mind when you think of a progressive discipline ?

Most managers would say: "a series of hoops that HR makes us jump through before we can get rid of a problem employee."


Most employees would say "my manager trying to get me out the door."


My take?


Progressive discipline is a tool that employers should use as an opportunity to 'coach up or coach out' employees. Bottom line: you have invested time, money and energy into your employees. You don't want to constantly face the expense of churning through employees and having to rehire/retrain. Most employees are coachable. They need to know the expectations of their jobs and what steps are going to be taken to either help them achieve those expectations or the results from their lack of performance. You can either coach them up through the steps of expectations and progress or coach them out by outlining their performance and inability to meet the expectations.


Progressive discipline is a series a specific steps to ensure the consistency in the administration of corrective disciplinary action, i.e.: verbal reprimand, written warning, probation/suspension, and termination. As an employer, also having these defined steps will provide you with the proper documentation for reference in termination reviews, as backup in an ESC appeal, or any other type of wrongful termination hearings.  These steps and the supporting documentation will clearly demonstrate that you have taken the required actions and that the employee has been made aware of their performance deficiencies, your expectations, and the consequences for not meeting the expectations.


The biggest fear from managers is that they will be tied to the steps outlined and unable to take immediate action for severe violations of company policy or poor performance.  Progressive discipline steps can be deviated from in serious situations such as theft, fighting, falsification of records, and gross misconduct. Often time these infractions result in immediate termination upon completion of a thorough investigation.


There is verbiage in CAI's Handbook guide regarding progressive discipline administration or you can reach out to any member of the Advice & Resolution team for more information.


For additional information regarding the typical steps of a progressive discipline program including insights of CAI’s Advice & Resolution Team, click on the following link:  A&R Insight: Progressive Discipline.  If you need assistance with a related issue, please don't hesitate to contact our Advice & Resolution team.


Further reading:

Discipline Training for Managers and Supervisors (Free Turnkey PowerPoint Training Program)

Company Rules and Disciplinary Procedures