Sometimes the most obvious steps to minimize the risk of adverse employment decisions are disregarded. Critical to avoiding making matters worse when disciplining an employee for some form of misconduct or failure in performance, up to and including termination is to DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. A well maintained paper trail, beginning as early as the recruiting phase, should provide stronger support for any employment decision down the road. HR should follow established policies and procedures to ensure an equal and balanced application. If policies are not up to date — they should be. Handbooks should be issued and acknowledgement receipts signed and kept in personnel files. Personnel files should be updated on a regular basis. Written reviews should be delivered regularly, at least semi-annually. With a foundation of proper documentation in place, the next most critical step is to COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE. Avoid the pitfalls. Establish and maintain policies and procedures, and communicate effectively. Discipline and termination decisions will then be on stronger footing.
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