Emily has been an administrative assistant working at her office for about two years and has never had any issues with her performance. Over the past six months, her attendance has started to become problematic and she has been making a number of mistakes in her work.

Her supervisor, Phillip, notices these increasing issues, and sits down with her to try to determine the cause of these changes and what the company can do to help her. Emily discloses that she is going through a divorce and the past few months have been incredibly difficult for her. She apologizes that it has affected her work, and informs Phillip of her intent to improve. Phillip documents this conversation and gives Emily the opportunity to correct the issues.

A month later, her performance has slightly improved, but Emily is still making too many mistakes to not be addressed and her attendance is still an issue. Phillip decides to administer a written warning, notes the previous conversation, addresses performance and attendance standards, and details expectations going forward. He places Emily on a Performance Improvement Plan with a date to follow up in two weeks.

The progressive steps towards rehabilitation proved to be effective in this situation, and Emily began to show signs of improvement in both areas. Balancing a strong focus on working with the employee in their professional improvement coupled with warranted discipline was an effective approach as it provided both the empathy and strong direction that was necessary.

In many situations, supervisors do not take the time to sit down with their employees to go over performance standards and expectations, and rather jump straight to disciplinary action. Often these knee-jerk decisions are clouded by emotions, such as frustration with your employee’s performance that reflects poorly on you as a manger. If your anger is blinding you from finding solutions, take a breath and reflect on the situation from a problem-solving mentality.

Start the process with a conversation with the employee about the issue with a rehabilitative approach. Focus on helping your employee build a path to success rather than holding their failure over them. This problem-solving mentality helps give those employees who are struggling the chance to improve and succeed, while at the same time holds them accountable for their past performance and actions.