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Employee Corrective Action

So I just had to put an employee on a final write up for the first time in my professional career. That sucked…a lot. It is hard to believe that it is the right thing to do for an employee or a company, but, done correctly, it is.


I am not a person who likes corrective action. I call my approach, Utopian. I work very hard to hire people who know what needs to be done and do it. I like that natural ownership and accountability. I like people who want to do a good job because they like to do good work, not so they can be recognized. If each employee owns their role, the team grooves together and it is beautiful.

The truth is… that is very hard to maintain. Sports teams have this and we call it a “magical season,” or say, “the stars aligned.” Whatever it was, it just worked. The problem with a Utopia is that one person can bring down the whole system. One person who doesn't pull their weight. One person who doesn't care as much as the rest. One person, is all it takes to bring something beautiful down to something failing.

So what are you to do then? Just keep that person around and punish your good employees by asking them to pick up the slack? Drive moral down and even fail on deliverables because that person “is trying?”

I have been fired twice (once from Starbucks!). I got fired from my first real job after graduating college (Starbucks was an early college job). Going through that process was killer, but it made me grow up. It made me take things seriously. Made me realize what I want in life, the people I want to be around and the culture I want participate in.


In summary, you are robbing your employees of the life experience of having your failings addressed honestly and directly. Those who don’t listen are bad seeds and you don’t want them poisoning your team. Your team will appreciate you and that will build loyalty. Those that do listen will take it hart, step up and knock it out of the park. I think you will find a relationship or mentorship develop out of this. There will always be the painful exception of the person who earnestly puts everything they have, but just can’t cut it. To that person, I say, “look deep inside yourself, know who you are and find a company that matches that.” A good manager will help that person find a position that allows them to succeed and be happy, even if it is outside the company.

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