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Corrective Action: What is Your Company Process?
Authored By: HR Performance on 8/31/2017

When a manager has to address deficiencies in an employee's performance or behavior, it is vital that they have a process to follow. These processes give managers guidelines that they need, and they protect the company while treating all employees equitably. Sometimes an oral warning is all it takes to help an employee correct his or her action. Other times, managers have to follow several subsequent steps. 

Let’s explore a few details around corrective action processes and how technology can help make the process easier.

Corrective Action Processes and Forms

Every organization’s corrective action process is a little unique but generally the process starts with an oral warning, then progresses to a written warning, and then a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is developed. The inability to complete a PIP successfully typically results in termination. 

Much of the variation in the process between organizations comes from differences in the forms used to track deficiencies. Even though forms vary between companies, their existence is vital to the process.  Most organizations choose not to fire employees without documented inadequacies, even in states with at-will employment laws.  Documenting deficiencies provides an extra layer of protection for the organization under those at-will employment laws.

At some point in the process, forms should be routed to HR for their involvement. There are many advantages to this that are outlined here but, to summarize, routing allows HR and up-line managers to stay informed and possibly provide coaching to the direct manager. Routing also allows up-line managers and HR to provide an “audit” of feedback and corroborate informal and formal feedback.

Having a formalized process with forms to support HR, managers, and employees makes what is typically a very uncomfortable and emotional experience a little easier, especially in companies where managers have less access to HR. The process of formalizing corrective action processes helps HR to be clear about all of the details that are important during these high-stakes discussions.

How Can Good Technology Help?

Watch the video associated with this article to see a few ideas around how good technology can help you manage your formal processes around corrective action. Before you watch, consider the following points:

  • Automation, alerts, and flexibility: Once you know what your process is, you shouldn’t have to revisit it repeatedly with different managers. Your performance management system should be able to be configured to automate even the most complex processes for routing or soliciting feedback from anywhere within the organization. Once configured, email alerts and reminders will keep everyone on track.
  • Reports: It’s the role of HR to manage processes and identify trends. Good technology will allow you to customize reports or dashboards that show you exactly what you want to see about your formal process, when you want to see it.
  • Forms: Companies that have corrective action forms in their performance management application are able to give all managers easy access, and ensure consistent, secure, documentation across the company. Housing corrective action forms in the performance management application also allows managers to refer to it during the appraisal process. An oral warning early in the year may be forgotten at review time, but should be considered during the review.

The corrective action process is almost always difficult for managers and employees. Having the right processes and technology will allow HR to spend more time coaching managers on what to say and what not to say during their interactions. Keep in mind that, when given clear direction, many employees successfully complete corrective action processes and go on to be valuable employees. Corrective action can sometimes be avoided all together if there are strong performance management practices that are institutionalized throughout the organization.

No matter what your processes are, be sure to use good technology and forms to make this potentially difficult situation much easier. Centralized storage, easy access to forms, and simplified processes for routing forms to HR and up-line managers are all critical to making this experience easier.


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