The Supervisor's Toolbox: Take Action

Conducting a corrective action interview with the impaired or troubled employee is often challenging and uncomfortable. Most supervisors put this interview off for as long as possible. In fact, there are a number of "barriers" or excuses that make it difficult for supervisors to sit down and conduct a corrective action interview with an employee.

Some of these barriers include:

  • "I'm too busy."
  • "What if I'm wrong?"
  • Fear of litigation (EEOC, etc.)
  • Lack of experience
  • Belief problem reflects on own ability
  • Lack of documentation
  • Perceived lack of support
  • Lack of training
  • Easier to ignore
  • Waiting for better time
  • Waiting for a magical cure
  • It's the boss' kid
  • S/he is my friend
  • S/he's going through a rough time

By acting in a timely manner and clearly addressing issues as they come up, you'll eliminate most of these excuses. Consultation and good documentation are also vital steps to take. Whatever the barrier, it is your responsibility, utilizing the resources available to you, to overcome it. By not taking action you enable or allow the problem employee to remain a problem. Supervisors who enable send the powerful negative message to everyone that "there are no negative consequences when you don't do your job."

Do's and Don'ts for Meeting with the Employee

  • Do set an agenda for the meeting, have a goal and plan of action in mind.
  • Do conduct the interview in a quiet place, free of interruptions.
  • Do let the employee know s/he is a valued member of your team.
  • Do treat the employee, as you'd like to be treated in a similar situation.
  • Do state the facts, clearly, calmly and without judging or accusing.
  • Do let the employee know what is expected and by when.
  • Do create a plan with the employee to meet the objectives.
  • Do make clear the consequences for failure to meet the agreed-upon standard.
  • Do schedule a follow-up meeting time.
  • Do remind the employee about the EAP.
  • Do document the topics covered in your interview and the established goals.
  • Don't get into an argument; stay focused on the goal of your interview.
  • Don't diagnose the employee's problems or offer personal counsel.
  • Don't lose your cool; remain in control of the interview session.
  • Don't be taken in by sympathy-evoking tactics, manipulation or other efforts.
  • Don't forget to document the meeting, the topics discussed, and the goals.