Ask Amy — Practical Advice for Supervisors: How Do I Determine the Appropriate Level of Formal Disciplinary Action?

A Message from Amy Bosley, Vice President, Organizational Development and Human Resources

As a supervisor, it is important to familiarize yourself with the two avenues available to address performance and/or behavior concerns. Corrective action, like a written counseling or Individual Action Plan (IAP), are informal in nature and are kept at the department level. These informal corrective actions may be used as supporting documentation should there be a need to transition to formal disciplinary action if the concerns persist or initial improvement not be sustained. In contrast, disciplinary actions, like written warning, suspension, demotion, return to annual contract and termination, which are formal in nature and are housed in the Organizational Development and Human Resources personnel file.

The College’s Disciplinary Action Policy provides a foundation for addressing performance and behavior concerns through formal disciplinary action. As outlined in the policy, the College is committed to providing all employees a fair, clear and useful tool for formally addressing unacceptable conduct. The policy also states that disciplinary actions are usually progressive in nature but that there are situations that may warrant a more severe disciplinary action outside of the progressive approach. For supervisors, this often brings about one very important question — how do you determine what level of formal disciplinary action is appropriate?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining the appropriate level of disciplinary action. That being said, the policy is crafted in a way that ensures you have ample support.

As outlined in the policy, you must contact your respective campus director of organizational development and human resources or a member of the Employee Relations team for guidance and support prior to issuing a formal disciplinary action. This ensures that you are well informed of all options available to you and have the opportunity to hear how similar situations have been handled across the College.

With all of that in mind, here are some helpful tips when considering formal disciplinary action:

  • Documentation – Should there be a pattern of concerns, it is important that you keep all relevant documentation pertaining to the concerns, what corrective measures were used to informally address the concerns and what potential consequences may occur should the concerns persist. This documentation is invaluable in determining the appropriate level of formal disciplinary action.
  • Precedence – Should a similar situation have occurred, it is important that, to the extent possible, consistent levels of discipline be applied. In contrast, should this be a unique situation, it is important to weigh the fact that your course of action sets a precedent for how similar situations will be handled in the future. Consider how you would respond if this was your best employee and/or your worst employee.

For additional information on disciplinary action, view the Disciplinary Action – Understanding Progressive Discipline online training, located in the Valencia EDGE. Or, contact your campus director of organizational development and human resources or a member of the Employee Relations team.

Ask Amy” is designed to provide supervisors with guidance to successfully navigate opportunities and challenges in your daily work, as you create a culture for employee success within your teams. Each month, I, along with featured guest contributors, will address a question and offer practical solutions from which all supervisors can benefit.

If you would like to ask a question, simply email me with “Ask Amy” in the subject line. Submissions will be included anonymously in the Supervisor Segment and The Grove, and will be addressed monthly as they are received.

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