5 Worst Discipline Mistakes

Posted by on May 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm. Comments Off on 5 Worst Discipline Mistakes

The primary purpose for disciplinary action is to assist the employee to understand that a performance problem or opportunity for improvement exists.  The ideal in handling employee problems is to be firm, fair and consistent.  However, a manager should follow a few guidelines to ensure that performance and productivity aren’t lost in the process.

5 Worst Discipline Mistakes

Listed below are the five (5) worst discipline mistakes that a supervisor can make followed by how to avoid them and how to seek alternative ways to a more productive work environment.

  1. Being inconsistent.  Employees want to be treated fairly and consistency.  They value this!  If their behavior was unacceptable, this is a time for the employer to correct the behavior.  The employer needs to be fair but firm and treat all employees the same who commit this same type of behavior.  If not, as the employer, you lose control.
  2. Losing your temper.  Don’t lose your cool especially in front of other employees or your customers/clients.  You can potential lose the respect of others based on how you handle this situation.  The unacceptable behavior may warrant losing your temper but it won’t benefit anyone in the long run.  Take a deep breath and ask the employee to meet you in a private office.  You can then calmly discuss why you are angry.  State your expectations clearly and remember to document the meeting.
  3. Praising too little or too much.  This is a double edge sword.   Some supervisors fall victim to praising employees for little things such as just showing up for work.  Yes, it is great that your employees report for duty but attendance is a basic requirement.  On the flip side, there are supervisors who never say anything no matter what!  This is just as bad since it may make employees feel like failures.  A simple thank you goes a long way!
  4. Avoiding any disciplinary action entirely.  Saying or doing nothing diminishes your effectiveness as a supervisor thus losing respect, and control over the productivity of your employees.  When an employee has unacceptable behavior, it is your responsibility as the supervisor to do what you need to do as close to the action as possible.  This will ideally correct the behavior and serve as an example to all employees.
  5. Playing Mr./Mrs. Nice guy/gal.  Even though you want to be friendly with your employees, you must remember that you can’t step away from being the supervisor.  As the supervisor, you must express expectations and correct inappropriate behavior.

No one is perfect and we have all made mistakes at one point in time.  However, you must remember to be firm, fair and consistent in following the organizations policies and procedures.  Think of disciplinary action as a way to correct unacceptable behavior and bring a positive change to the employee.

If you need guidance on how to discipline an employee or to verify if you are warranted (and legal) in taking disciplinary measures, please contact Mindi Brenner.

Recruitment Humor from Candidates

Posted by on May 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm. Comments Off on Recruitment Humor from Candidates

Many people think Human Resource professionals have no sense of humor.  Well, I am here to tell you otherwise.  Every day, HR professionals deal with interesting situations and to assist us to get through the day, we must find humor in the things we do.

Employment Humor

Lessons Learned — Job Candidates Do the Darnedest Things

10 funny things that candidates have done during the interview process per numerous recruitment professionals!

  1. Tossed a beer can into a trash bin outside the employer’s reception area on the way into an interview.
  2. A woman blew her nose and lined up used tissues on the table in front of her during the interview.
  3. A person who provided a detailed list of how the previous employer made him mad.
  4. During an interview, the candidate said that he was so well qualified that if he didn’t get the job, it would prove that the company’s management was incompetent.
  5. The candidate wore earphones listening to her iPod and said she could listen to music and the interviewer at the same time.
  6. A bald candidate abruptly excused himself from the interview.  He returned a few minutes later wearing a hair-piece.
  7. Applicant challenged interviewer to arm wrestle.
  8. Asked to see the interviewer’s resume to see if the HR executive was qualified to judge the candidate.
  9. A man wore a jogging suit to the interview.  He was interviewing for a position as a financial Vice President.
  10. The male candidate asked who the lovely “babe” was, pointing to the picture on my desk.  When the interviewer said it was his wife, the candidate asked if she was home now and wanted her phone number.   Security was called immediately.


If you care to share any humorous things that you have experienced with applicants or your employees, I would love to hear about them!

Top 6 Items Not To Be Kept in Personnel Files

Posted by on May 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm. Comments Off on Top 6 Items Not To Be Kept in Personnel Files

The last blog, I explained the three reasons why proper record keeping is required for all employers.  In addition to knowing what to keep in the Personnel Files, it is also important what not to keep in these Personnel Files.   Along with the Personnel File, an employer should keep a separate Medical/Benefit File and an I-9 File on each employee.  Whether you have two employees or 250 employees, this applies to you!

Top 6 Items Not To Be Kept in Personnel Files

Besides the Personnel file, an employer should keep the following information separate:

  1. Pre-employment drug test and/or physical results.
  2. Benefit enrollment or change forms.
  3. Information pertaining to leave of absences.
  4. Any other medical information with personally identifiable information about individual employees.
  5. Any Workers Compensation documents.
  6. I-9 forms and support documents (these need to be kept in a separate file or binder).


If you need assistance in reviewing your Personnel Files, please contact Mindi Brenner.

Top 10 Items to Keep in the Personnel File

Posted by on May 3, 2011 at 6:11 pm. Comments Off on Top 10 Items to Keep in the Personnel File

There are three reasons why proper record keeping is a requirement for employers.  First, it makes good business sense to have accurate information handy and organized.  The second reason is to have documentation on an employee’s work performance and work history.  The third reason is some employee records are required by federal or state governments to be kept somewhere.

Top 10 Items to Keep in the Personnel File

  1. Employment related documents such as the employee’s application, resume and prescreening application notes.
  2. Employment Offer letter.
  3. Employee Handbook acknowledgment form showing receipt of the handbook.
  4. Change in status such as transferring from one position or department to another; pay rate change; address and/or phone number change, etc.
  5. Vacation requests.
  6. Performance Evaluation form(s) and/or Performance improvement plan.
  7. Disciplinary action memos or notes to file.
  8. Training and development requests and history records.
  9. Employee Separation information such as exit interview form, final employee performance appraisal, reason for departure, etc.
  10. Copy of job description.

Next time, I will discuss what not to keep in the Personnel File.

If you need assistance in reviewing your Personnel Files, please contact Mindi Brenner.

Avoid the Top 10 Mistakes in an Employee Handbook

Posted by on April 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm. Comments Off on Avoid the Top 10 Mistakes in an Employee Handbook

Poorly written handbooks can open up your organization to countless lawsuits.  A few of the trouble areas are the ADA, FLSA, sexual harassment and harassment, racial and gender discrimination.  Audit your employee handbook with these 10 common errors in mind.


Avoid the Top 10 Mistakes in an Employee Handbook

A poorly written, outdated or inconsistent employee handbook can hurt your organization.  If this is the case, it is as if you don’t even have a handbook in the first place.  For instance, many organizations include inconsistent language that wipes out the “at-will” policy where an employer is able to discharge an employee for “good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all” and the employee is able to quit or end the employment relationship for any reason as well.

Here are the top 10 Mistakes to avoid:

  1. Adopting a form handbook – Cut and pasting a handbook you found online may seem great at the moment but if it doesn’t specifically address your organizations needs, you could be setting yourself for trouble.
  2. Including lots of detail – When writing an employee handbook, stick to specific policies and procedures.  Excess language creates material for lawyers for potential lawsuits.
  3. Mentioning an employee probationary period – A probationary period can erase the “at-will” status by implying that once the probationary period is over, employment is indefinite.
  4. Being too specific in your disciplinary process/policy – Obviously, you can’t list every infraction that would be considered inappropriate behavior.
  5. Not being consistent – Ensure consistency amongst other policies and procedures throughout the organization.
  6. Overlooking an at-will disclaimer – Ensure that your employees understand the “at-will” disclaimer by signing an acknowledgement for this disclaimer plus include an acknowledgement for receiving, reading and understanding the handbook.
  7. Not adapting the handbook to accommodate to the Federal and State laws that cover your organization (as noted in #1).
  8.  Failing to update or review – The employee handbook should be reviewed (and updated if need be) annually and reissued to employees to ensure awareness by all employees.
  9. Setting unrealistic policies – If there are policies that are too cumbersome or confusing (which is a guarantee your supervisors won’t be able to enforce), take another look at these policies.
  10. Hold an employee meeting – Employee meetings are a great way to reinforce the employee handbook and specific policies and procedures.  These meetings can be annually, semi-annually, quarterly, etc.

If you need assistance with writing one policy or reviewing your employee handbook, please contact Mindi Brenner today!