Disciplinary Action: Open-Heart Conversations

Most employment litigation is caused by an angry employee who felt that he/she had not been treated fairly by not receiving his/her “day in court.”  This feeling of unfair treatment by an employee is usually the result of a disciplinary process that failed to thoroughly investigate an incident and/or failed to properly communicate expectations.

Our Member-Partners are trained to implement our proprietary disciplinary review process that is designed to eliminate the flaws of traditional disciplinary action.

Our program is called Open-Heart Conversations and it has two Phases.

Phase 1 – Initial phone review:

  1. When an organization decides that disciplinary action is necessary to correct an issue with an employee, the manager to whom the employee reports can contact a Member-Partner to review the situation. The Member-Partner will walk the manager thorough a 14-point checklist for determining whether just and proper cause may exist for disciplinary action.
  2. If it is decided that proper cause is not present at this time for disciplinary action, the Member-Partner and the manager will develop a strategy for monitoring the situation and continuing to build a case.
  3. If it is decided to proceed with disciplinary action, the Member-Partner will take the following action:
    a) For an oral warning, the Member-Partner and manager will brainstorm the issue and expected changes in performance and behavior.  The Member-Partner and manager will also brainstorm any problems that may arise in the meeting.  The manger and the Member-Partner or just the manager will conduct the meeting.
    b) For a written warning, the Member-Partner would initiate Phase 2.

Phase 2 – Preparation of Written Documentation:

  1. The Member-Partner will send the form, “Issues Resolution Worksheet Manager Confidential,” to the manager for the manager to initially record information.  The manager will email the completed form to the Member-Partner.
  2. The Member-Partner will call the manager to review the form.  During and after the phone conversation, the Member-Partner will make additions, deletions, and changes to the form in an effort to clarify any points and minimize wording that may cause inflamed feelings.
  3. The Member-Partner will retype the “Issues Resolution Worksheet Manager Confidential” information onto a new form that will be given to the employee.  The Member-Partner will review the new form with the manager.
  4. The manager and Member-Partner will agree to any final changes to the form.
  5. The Member-Partner and manager will then brainstorm and role play any issues that may arise during the disciplinary action meeting with the employee.  The Member-Partner will review with the manager the suggested disciplinary action meeting format, which is part of the Open-Heart Conversation Program.  The Member-Partner will participate in the disciplinary session if requested by the manager.

Following the Phase 1 or Phase 2 meeting, the manager and the Member-Partner will meet to debrief about the session and troubleshoot any issues that may have come up during the meeting.

To get more information about the Open-Heart Conversation Program, click on the Downloads section of our website and download the white paper titled, “Disciplinary Conversations.”

To receive information about our disciplinary process, contact a Member-Partner in your area or our corporate offices.