Performance Issue – Lack of commitment / effort
Solution – Informal reprimand
Reprimands are a ‘short, sharp’ informal (vs disciplinary warnings) reminder designed to quickly restore normal performance levels. A reprimand is appropriate when a competent employee’s problem appears to be caused by a declining level of interest, commitment/effort, carelessness or enthusiasm for the job. Reprimands aren’t formal discipline but are more than everyday feedback in that the implication (sometimes stated) is that discipline may follow any failure to improve.
Elements of a reprimand
- Reprimands should be prompt, precise and positive, face to face and consistent.
- They are appropriate where you are satisfied the problem seen was ‘out of character’ and a case of ’won’t do’ as opposed to ’can’t do’.
- Reprimands are a ‘short, sharp’ reminder where a more structured ‘Getting performance back on track’ conversation including its focus on diagnosing the cause of the problem isn’t required.
- Reprimands must focus on the employee’s performance. Don’t criticise them as a person.
- Ensure reprimands are delivered in private to avoid humiliating the employee.
- Take immediate action and deal with each case. Don’t store things up and then overwhelm the employee with a list of reprimands.
- Keep a diary note of the reprimand in case you need to refer to it if further action is required.
Use the following guidelines when a reprimand is required.
Setting up a reprimand conversation
Tell the employee in advance that “we need to talk about aspects of your performance that appear to have slipped’.
- Tell the employee exactly what they did wrong and that you know they can perform at a higher level.
- Make sure they understand the impact of this performance.
- Explain the consequences, including the possibility of disciplinary action, if this reprimand has no effect.
- Ask for their explanation and explore as required.
- Ask for their commitment/effort to resuming normal performance.
- Emphasise that you think well of the employee, but not of their performance on this occasion.
- End on a positive note. “We all have bad days” or “This is not like you – I know I can expect better from you.”Keep it brief.
- Make it clear that when the reprimand is over, it’s over.
Continued poor performance should result in a formal PIP or Disciplinary Action.