Most likely, your company has a very clear line about employees who physically attack co-workers: Fire them on the spot.
But what about employees who verbally threaten others? This situation may not be as clear-cut, and the behavior may not amount to a firing offense – at least for first offenders.
If you decide not to terminate someone who threatens a co-worker orally or in writing, here are five points to touch on in your written reprimand:
- Document the wording. Get the target of the threat to tell you as exactly as possible what was said, or get a copy of a written threat. If there’s any doubt, ask the threatener for his or her version.
- Cite chapter and verse. Refer the person to the section(s) of company policy prohibiting what they did.
- State the offense. Make explicit that what the person said or wrote violates policy.
- State your future expectations. Tell the person that they must never again threaten (directly or in veiled terms) or harass anyone at work. Point out that no excuses will be tolerated or exceptions made.
- Lay out positive and negative outcomes. Let the person know you’re available to help them meet your expectations, and if they comply, no further action will be taken. But also let them know that if they engage in any further instances of the misconduct you’ve mentioned above, they may be discharged for cause.
And don’t forget to mention that the reprimand is being placed in their file.
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