Minor or uncharacteristic incident of unacceptable behaviour

Minor or uncharacteristic incident of unacceptable behaviour

Behaviour/Misconduct Issue – Minor or uncharacteristic incident of unacceptable behaviour

Solution – Informal reprimand

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 Performance Coaching 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/behaviour that appear to have slipped’.

The reprimand
  • 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 unacceptable behaviour should result in Disciplinary Action.