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The Dilemna of Warning Letters

There are usually two things that can discourage an employee from being engaged with work and by extension becoming less productive. These two things can either withdraw commitment to the employer or most times, from my experience, assumes he is not a valuable employee.

Two things and they are:

1. Warning letters (Values or performance).
2. Lack of ownership or micromanagement (To be addressed later).

For the purpose of this article, we shall be discussing warning letters.

Warning letters are a lawful thing to do otherwise, no HR would serve them. An employee is expected to be given 3 warning letters before he or she can be terminated and that is by right.

However, there are situations where an employee may be terminated without warning due to gross misconduct.

The intention of a warning letter is to:
a. Warn.
b. Notify of performance deficit or values.
c. Give an opportunity to be better.
d. Say we still believe in you, we want you here. Focus!
e. More importantly, challenge yourself more.

Here is now where the problem lies; when it is not done properly, it leaves a gap in-between what HR is trying to solve and how the HR messed up the solution before even prescribing the drug.
Read the below carefully:

Be human with your process. Do not just serve warning letters and believe that the employee would get the narrative from the contents of the letter. One of the challenges we have in this part of the world is that we focus more on performance and the bottom-line which is awesome without considering the impact of HR on the people side of the business. While it is important that we are business partners, it is also important that we constantly remind ourselves that HR is people operations. i.e our ability to utilize the best human resources, nurture them, maintain and feed them with the right tools while putting them into the best possible use.

Instead of focusing on performance, why not focus on engagemenent, on bonding, on learning and development, on values, on team-work and on work-life balance. You cannot miss it with these things.

We must learn to communicate effectively, we must be human in our approach, we must let employees be a part of the process, we must remain very transparent and credible and we must invest in our people.

Next time you are serving a warning letter, kindly have a chat with the employee first, let them know the reasons why you believe they can improve, let them in on the deficit that was observed and let them know the companys expectations and how they can become better and win as they progress.

I do hope we find this useful.

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