Disciplinary CPR = Content, Pattern, Relationship

by Patrice Altenhofen on March 8, 2012

in Employee Engagement,Performance Management,Strengths


“If you’re having a second conversation about the same issue, you’re having the wrong conversation.”*

Imagine you have an employee who is poor at time management and chronically late returning from lunch. You decide to engage in a little coaching with the employee, hoping she will improve with guidance and direction. Your first conversation will likely facts supporting your concern about her lateness:

“Amanda, you have been late returning from lunch three times in the past two weeks. By doing so, you are failing to meet our attendance standards. Please be sure to be to be back to work on time not only to ensure policy compliance but also to support your team and our reputation for stellar customer service.”

When Amanda continues to return late, reiteration of the incidents is misplaced. It is more powerful to focus now on the pattern of lateness, particularly because you have already reminded her of the company standard. This is no longer an isolated incident of misconduct for Amanda – it is behavior she knows is a violation of your company’s standard.

“Amanda, since we spoke last week about your failure to return from lunch on time, you have been late returning from lunch on two occasions. This pattern of behavior indicates an inability or unwillingness to meet our company standards, as well as a disregard for your coworkers and our customers. Continued failure to do so may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. It is up to you to take the steps necessary to ensure your continued employment with us.”

If Amanda continues this pattern over time, it is an indicator that she does not value her job, or her relationship with your organization. It may not be worthwhile to engage in further efforts to help Amanda keep her job.

“Amanda, you have failed to exhibit the judgment expected of an employee of this Company. Your behavior has undermined the Company’s effort to maintain a workplace atmosphere characterized by professionalism, stellar customer service and teamwork. You have displayed an attitude which would be unsatisfactory for any employee, but is particularly unacceptable for an employee of your position and experience. You have been warned repeatedly about similar behavior previously and have failed to respond in a way that suggests further coaching would be worthwhile. As a result, it is necessary to terminate your employment effective immediately.”

If you or your team would like some coaching on having a “difficult conversation” give us a call.

*Learned recently at a session on “Difficult Conversations” facilitated by a great trainer and mentor, Skip Centioli. Skip presented the material based upon Crucial Conversations, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler.

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