1-800-225-0863 | steven@blockins.net         

Handling Emotional Responses To A Disciplinary Interview

Last week we discussed the need for compliant employees in a strong business. It is also true that business owners do not particularly like disciplining their employees. The emotional reaction of the employee is part of the reason we do not like carrying out discipline. This week we will examine the types of emotional responses you might see and how you can effectively handle them.
Some employees respond to discipline with hostility. The hostility will express itself as anger and/or resentment. As unpleasant as it is to sit through someone spewing their anger at you, the solution to this reaction is to wait it out. After the employee is done spewing, I suggest you calmly bring the interview back on track by asking an open-ended question such as, "how do you propose we resolve this issue?"
Other employees respond to discipline with defensiveness. This type of employee has an excuse for everything, whether the issue is performance or attitude based. In this interview make notes of the employee's excuses and then ask open-ended questions such as, "I don't think I understand. How does Mrs. Smith's car contribute to your being late?"
With yet other employees you will be met with insincerity. This is the employee that consistently appears to accept your feedback, tells you they will make the needed changes, but then never follows through. These employees are managed efficiently by the consistent application of your progressive discipline policy. (If you would like to receive a sample progressive discipline policy, email your request to beth@blockinsurance.net.)
Silence is still another reaction you may encounter. Last week we talked about how you, the manager, can use silence as a tool to get your employee to provide information. It is important to be alert however, to your own discomfort with silence. If your employee refuses to answer open-ended questions, your best strategy is to make firm, declarative statements such as, "We have to set improvement goals that are realistic. if you do not participate in the goal setting, the goals may not be achievable. That is not in anyone's interest."
I think one of my least favorite reaction types is the crier. It is impossible for you to know if this is a sincere reaction or  bid to make you feel guilty. In either case it is vital that you maintain objectivity. Your strategy is to wait until the employee regains their composure and then proceed with the interview. A possible way to frame this is, "I am sorry you are so upset. What steps can we take to fix the problem?"
Some employees divert the attention away from themselves by trying to implicate others in the problem. Your best approach is to keep the conversation focused on the facts of this employee. You can handle this by saying, Each employee is addressed separately. Why did you break this rule?"
Lastly, there is the challenge to your management skills posed by the persecuted employee. This type of employee is certain that any form of discipline is illegal discrimination. They will attempt to scare you with threats of a lawsuit. You will be best served by refusing to be baited into an argument. Listen to the employee's threats, ask if they have any hard evidence to support their assertion. If there is no hard evidence, return to the interview. Be careful with this type of employee to be certain you do not make any statements that can be twisted into the basis for an employment practices claim. This is why you prepare for the interview in advance and script yourself.
I value your feedback. Please email comments or suggestions to: beth@blockinsurance.net or steven@blockinsurance.net.


Are You Managing Your Risk? Get A Quote

Please be advised that information contained in this site may be dated. No insurance coverage can be bound, deleted, modified or in any other manner effected through this website. Complete information regarding coverage and exclusions can be found in policy documents. The information contained in this website is summary in nature.