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I recently dropped a post titled "Is Corrective Action a Death Sentence?", which explored the fact that all too often, corrective action/progressive discipline is the beginning of the end. When an employee gets that document, all too often they have the opinion they can't save their job.
 
Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. What if we entered into the corrective action world actually
expecting that the employee could make it? That's the way it should be in my eyes. Of course, that The planmeans a couple of different things:
 
1--Our companies have to go into any type of corrective action plan thinking the employee can make it, with the right type of support.
 
2--The employee in question has to want to raise their performance to meet the requirements of your plan - not always the case.
 
3--No one can act surprised if the employee makes it.
 
Which brings us to the garden variety corrective action/progressive discipline plan.  Here's a couple of things to think about:
 
--It's not over just because you "wrote them up".  Identifying what the performance is and why it's not great is only half the battle.
 
--The other half of the battle? Actually telling them what they need to do to get off the plan.
 
What's acceptable performance look like?  Too often corrective action/progressive discipline documents don't describe what performance that meets expectations looks like.  That's a miss.
 
So if you're going to do corrective action/progressive discipline the right way, you have to provide a path where they are off the plan. Most of us don't do that. We're just taking a "step".
 
If you're different than that, you probably should consider renaming what you call corrective action/progressive discipline at your company. I know what you're thinking - just because I call it something else doesn't mean anything has changed - and you're right.
 
I'm only telling you to change what you call it if you're actually open to someone getting their performance together and coming "off'" the plan. By all means, if you're just taking steps, keep doing what your doing. I hope the corrective action/progressive discipline process goes well for you.
 
But, if you're doing it differently and providing the aforementioned path, you should rename it.  Here's some real options, all with elements of truth in them:
 
Real Options/Recommendations
 
--Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) - Frequently used by sales teams with hard numbers to back it up, the ole' PIP means what it says. Do this, and you're good.  Don't do this, and we probably can't keep you.
 
--Back on Track Plan - This name for the plan does what it says it's going to do. You're off track. We need you on track. Here's the plan to do it.
 
--Individual Development Plan (IDP) - I know, I know. This is usually centered around true employee development in the L&D space. But if you don't currently have IDPs as part of your human capital stack, this name is available to you for to use for performance situations.
 
If you had the exact right culture, you could also use naming conventions like the "Get Them Off Your Back Plan", which is 100% honest but likely way too cheeky for the seriousness of what's in front of you.
 
The bottom line is this - if you don't have corrective action that shows the path to get off the plan, you're signaling a lot of bad things. I understand those bad things are likely to happen in a lot of circumstances, but aren't we better than that?
 
Change the name if you're willing to work on it and provide clarity in feedback to those that are struggling in your organization.  Keep it as is if you're not - don't destroy the opportunity for others.

Comments

Scott

We've toyed with changing the name and have actually rebranded corrective action twice in the last 7 years. It made a little dent in the conversation at rollout.... right up to the point that people figured out that you get just as fired for failing to adhere to the "happy fun time plan" as you did the old "warning, final warning, final-final warning."

To me, it's more about people leaders who feel confident saying "Whether you believe this is the first step towards firing you or the first step towards addressing something that needs to be changed in order for you to succeed, you're right. Now what do you want to do about it?"

Bryan

+1 to Scott's last sentence. I really like that, and will add this to my tool chest!

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