Ron has just been promoted to Department Manager. A few weeks into his new role, he noticed that the work quality and production for one of his employees (Fred) had dropped significantly. He heard that the same employee was also having some difficulties at home. Ron decided that he would hold off on talking with Fred with the hope that his personal issues would improve and he would pick up the slack at work.

A few weeks later, Sally, a coworker of Fred’s, walks into Ron’s office visibly stressed out, declaring that she frustrated because she feels like she is doing all the work in the department. At this point, Ron decides to talk to Fred about his ongoing performance issues. Fred immediately tells Ron that he knows that his production is slipping and he will do better from now on. Ron, relieved he doesn’t have to confront Fred directly, says okay and Fred walks out.

Two weeks later, Ron’s supervisor, Daniel, confronts Ron regarding a project deadline that has been missed. Daniel wants to terminate Fred for such a major oversight, and asks Ron what he has done to discipline Fred in the past for his performance issues. Ron embarrassingly admits that he has not disciplined Fred appropriately for his performance over the past month as required by company policy.

From the very start, rather than addressing the initial issues with Fred, Ron chose to ignore the problems. Ron avoided potential conflict with Fred instead of sitting down with him and carefully walking through the expectations of his position, documenting the conversation, and putting Fred on a subsequent written warning had his performance not improved. Without such documentation of progressive discipline, Daniel and Ron have no choice but to start at the beginning of the disciplinary process with Fred rather than terminating.

Not only does Daniel insist that Ron discipline Fred appropriately, he proceeds discipline Ron for inappropriately managing Fred and not following procedures. If Ron appropriately managed Fred from the beginning, there would be a good chance that Fred would have corrected the performance issues or the organization could have minimized risk if they chose to terminate Fred.