What recommendations do you have for disciplining difficult employees?

The performance reports we use would have documented any situations that had occurred, so there would be sufficient record of any issues. I’d then set up a meeting with the employee to identify and discuss the problem and what possible solutions would solve the problem.
— Doreen Bessert, C.E.H., Worksite Placement Coordinator, Custodial Supervisor & Central Purchasing Agent, Maitowoc County DPW

We strive to be fair, firm, factual and friendly, and document, document, document. It is important to find the root cause of poor behavior, then try to coach, mentor, advise, or encourage the employee towards a more positive behavior and performance. This may include change of work schedule, different supervisor, etc. It is important to consult with human resources for guidance and recommendations when disciplining difficult employees and adhere to policies and procedures at all times.
— Ada Baldwin, M.R.E.H., Director for University Housekeeping, North Carolina State University

We have an agreement with the union that represents our employees that we can determine at what level we may implement corrective action, depending on the severity of the offense. However, we have a progressive corrective action process — coaching and informal counseling, which may or may not include a written action plan. Next are formal and final counseling, which always includes a written action plan followed by dismissal. The majority of our staff gets involved in some form of corrective action when coached, but the minority do not and proceed to dismissal. However, it is a long drawn-out process with many opportunities for the employee to change or improve.
— Gene Woodard, R.E.H., Director of Building Services, University of Washington

Initial preventative measures are to meet with the employee in an effort to identify the problem (this could be non-work related). It must also be sustained that the employee completely understands all job related duties, work rules, policies and procedures (more training may be required). 
Once this has been established, then progressive disciplinary action must follow. This can range from the issuance of an incident report to a formal disciplinary hearing that can result in a formal letter of reprimand, to suspension without pay, demotion or discharge.
— Michael Gutierrez, Manager of Building Operations, Milwaukee Public Schools

It is important to follow the procedures outlined by human resources for disciplining. That starts with making sure the employee is aware of that procedure and then following that procedure.
— Steve Spencer, Facilities Specialist, State Farm Insurance

Employees fall into 3 groups: A-employees, B-employees and C-employees. 
When I hire, I am only hiring what I believe to be "A-employees." With my "A-employees" I tell them what I love about them. You're always here when you are scheduled. You're always on time. You are a pleasure to work with. Other employees always talk about your sweet attitude, etc. 
When I have a conversation with my B-employees, I tell them what I like about their work and their attitude, but then I might give them one or two things to work on that will bring them from a "B" to an "A-employee". 
With "C-employees" I have a conversation that goes something like this:
"I have observed you X (fill in the blank with behaviors, attendance, job performance, etc.) I am going to give you two weeks to improve X (fill in the blank). We are going to talk again in two weeks to check on improvement in your X. If there's no improvement, the disciplinary process will begin up to and including termination. If there's still no improvement, in a very short time, you will no longer be here. It's your choice. But if you're going to be here, you have to move from a "C-employee” to a "B-employee at the very least. Will you do whatever is necessary to become a "B-employee?" The choice is yours. I won't fire you, you'll fire yourself."
— J. Darrel Hicks, R.E.H., Director of Environmental Services & Patient Transport, St. Luke’s Hospital

Can you explain the steps you take or advice you have for letting a staff member go?

I have always told employees that the organization has rules. We don’t fire anyone. The employee fires themselves by not following the rules.
— Steve Spencer, Facilities Specialist, State Farm Insurance

There would have to be just cause and documentation to justify a persons release from employment. I, along with my employer, truly believe in lots of documentation.
— Doreen Bessert, C.E.H., Worksite Placement Coordinator, Custodial Supervisor & Central Purchasing Agent, Maitowoc County DPW

I follow the policies and procedures outlined by our human resources department and maintain open communication with them throughout the process. I also make sure that all documentation supports the termination of the employee in question.
— Ada Baldwin, M.R.E.H., Director for University Housekeeping, North Carolina State University

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