We’re all familiar with the sad-but-sometimes-necessary sentence: “Failure to demonstrate immediate improvement may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

It’s how managers lay out the negative consequences for employees whose behavior or performance is lacking. But when problems must be discussed, you can also paint a brighter picture: of positive consequences that will result if the person does improve.

Here are some examples of what you could say:

  • By correcting your attendance problems, you will help our department meet its production goals and build everyone’s morale.
  • By meeting project deadlines, you will gain a sense of accomplishment and professional satisfaction.
  • By refraining from harmful gossip, you will improve your relationships with co-workers and foster warmer interactions at work.

Source: “101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems,” by Paul Falcone.

2 Comments

  • Rex Castle says:

    A lot depends on whether this is coaching or the last straw. With the exception of the last statement, which I think could probably just irritate someone, I don’t disagree that painting as positive a picture of a difficult circumstance is almost always preferable. At the same time, if this is a last straw-type of event, everyone from unemployment hearing officers to plaintiff’s counsel wants to see in black and white the proverbial “line in the sand,” and if someone’s job is in jeopardy,
    he or she, too, should know this in the most unambiguous terms we can use: “By correcting your attendance problems, you will help our department meet its production goals and build everyone’s morale. However, I would be less than honest not to tell you a failure to immediately improve your attendance will result in termination of your employment.” 

  • Rex Castle says:

    A lot depends on whether this is coaching or the last straw. With the exception of the last statement, which I think could probably just irritate someone, I don’t disagree that painting as positive a picture of a difficult circumstance is almost always preferable. At the same time, if this is a last straw-type of event, everyone from unemployment hearing officers to plaintiff’s counsel wants to see in black and white the proverbial “line in the sand,” and if someone’s job is in jeopardy,
    he or she, too, should know this in the most unambiguous terms we can use: “By correcting your attendance problems, you will help our department meet its production goals and build everyone’s morale. However, I would be less than honest not to tell you a failure to immediately improve your attendance will result in termination of your employment.” 

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