HR Jetpack Logo

Treat Employees with Respect

This is premium content

Register for HR Recertification Credit Subscription to gain access to this course.

Effective Disciplinary Action Policies and Procedures

  • Format: Self-paced
  • Course Duration: 1 hr 1 min
  • SHRM Professional Development Credits: 1.0
  • HRCI General Recertification Credits: 1.0
  • Certificate of Completion (after passing quiz)

Having to discipline, or worse, end an employment relationship is always difficult. Many employers think that just because they are in an “at will” state that they can fire anybody at any time. This is not the case. 

It is absolutely critical you, the HR Professional, and your team understand how to approach these oftentimes tough situations. There are right and wrong ways to handle them. As an HR Professional, you will be involved in and even lead disciplinary procedures. The learning objective is to help Human Resources Pros like yourself partner with managers to handle two of the toughest workplace activities, disciplinary actions and terminations.

You are in the perfect position to ensure employees are treated with respect and your management team operates in both a compassionate and compliant manner. The more you know, the less stress and anxiety you’ll have to overcome. Plus, you’ll be better enabled to train your managers.


HR Jetpack is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. This program is valid for 1.0 PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit

This activity, has been approved for 1.0 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®). For more information about certification or recertification, please visit the HR Certification Institute website at
The use of the HRCI seal confirms that this activity has met HR Certification Institute's® (HRCI®) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval.

Title: Treat Employees with Respect
Module: Setting the Foundation
Duration: 3:59

Having a fair, consistent and well-followed Disciplinary Action policy shows employees that management respects them and wants to treat them fairly. It shows your staff that you really do want to coach them to success if at all possible.

A strong process clearly outlines expectations, is transparent, and allows for very few, if any surprises. It also acts as somewhat of a playbook for your managers to help guide them through the process.

Remember that the initial goal of issuing a Disciplinary Action plan is to coach and hopefully, improve the behavior. Here are a few tips for getting that conversation done in the best way possible:

Number 1, Check your facts.

I often recommend that at the very beginning of a Disciplinary Action conversation, that you verify if your “facts” are correct and also find out if there are reasons behind the behavioral issues. Confirming the facts prevents you from jumping to a wrong conclusion.

For example, I remember a time when I handed a write up to an employee for missing work without sending any communication to her manager. The decision to terminate was made when she had accrued too many “absenteeism” points and her final absence was a no call / no show situation.

It turned out she that had sent an email about her last absence to the manager, but the email was somehow lost and was never received. We were able to work with the employee and verified that they were telling the truth. The email had ended up in a SPAM folder!

Number 2, Don’t talk down to employees.

Talk to the employee as a peer. Talk to them how you would want to be spoken to. Communicating with them on an equal level shows them respect and trust. Even though you are having the conversation to correct a performance issue, treating your employees well always comes first.

Ask the employee what kind of help they could use to fix the problem. Ask them for suggestions and let them help find a solution. If they have a part in creating the solution, they are likely to have buy-in and achieve a more positive result.

Number 3, Don’t get emotional or angry.

By staying calm and collaborative, you are likely to do a better job of working towards fixing the problem and be more productive. If you get angry, they will immediately become defensive and the conversation will escalate from there. Your employee is likely to mirror your emotion – so staying calm and objective is always the best approach.

Number 4, Discuss the negative impact of the behavior.

Your conversation should explain why their behavior is a problem and why it needs to be changed. In other words, what is the negative impact of their behavior. Often just bringing an issue to someone’s attention is enough to help change their behavior. They may have been completely unaware.

For example, when someone is chronically late you may begin stating the factual number of times that they have been late. You may then ask them why they are always late and perhaps follow up with some brainstorming as to how that can improve. You may end the conversation by explaining to them that every time they are late, their co-workers have to pick up the slack and productivity decreases as a result.

Number 5, Stay positive.

Focus on positive ways to improve behavior. That is a much better approach than pointing out what not to do! Focus on what they should be doing! Work together to come up with a “fix” and be clear about what you expect from them in the future.

And end on a positive note. Before you close the meeting, be sure to recognize their hard work and positive contributions. Your staff wants to feel valued and needs to know that you care and respect them.

Going through the DA process is never fun. But, if done well, you could turn a poor employee into a rising star. I have seen this happen on NUMEROUS occasions and it is always so satisfying.


Instructor: Liz LaForte

Liz has been an HR professional for more years than she cares to share! In that time she has seen it all, she has hired them all, let some of them go, stayed on top of the ever changing cultural and regulatory landscape. She has had every difficult conversation a Hollywood writer’s room could cook...

Liz's Full Bio

SHRM Recertification

HR Jetpack® is an official SHRM Education Partner recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP.

HRCI Recertification

HR Jetpack® is recognized by HRCI as an approved provider to offer credit hours towards aPHR™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification.

HR Training

HR Jetpack® provides online training and support to HR Professionals.

Contact us to find the most appropriate service for you. Our expert support will answer your questions and offer guidance.

The information provided on this site, and in all courses should be used as a guide. Always consult an attorney when making employment law decisions.

Be Informed

Sign up for important notifications like new courses, deals, etc.