The Whipping Stick of the Workplace: Corrective Actions in Motion

In life and in work we are constantly being managed, or some may say ‘corrected’. Whether we missed an email or spoke out of turn in a meeting, managers need to implement corrective actions at times. I for one would prefer to ignore it and let someone else deal with a rowdy or unruly employee, (not really).  However, in today’s “politically correct” business arenas, having some real guidelines in place for corrective action policies are an essential part of being a better manager. After all, you can’t whip out your ruler and swat someone with it now can you? Don’t think that one over too hard… the answer is no!

Corrective action is about identifying and eliminating the “causes” of a problem to prevent their recurrence. Sounds easy enough right? When you have specific metrics you and your team are following to maintain order and compliance on company goals, as a manager you must also implement corrective actions for when things go sideways.

Corrective actions may be implemented in response to customer complaints, inconsistency in the work output or instability in your daily processes due to confusion, overload or lackluster employee performance.  To ensure that corrective and preventive actions are effective, the systematic investigation of the “root causes” is pivotal. Once the problem is identified, an appropriate corrective action can be applied and the situation can then be appropriately remedied to prevent future instances.

EXAMPLE: If someone on my team didn’t bring their area’s update to our morning huddle, the corrective action would be a reminder around the expectation and the importance it provides to the rest of the team. However, each time they fail to deliver, they jeopardize our ability to perform and produce at the level required to meet our metrics. This bad behavior, without corrective action or intervention, has lasting repercussions. Now, whether workers choose to complete tasks to standard may be a point of contention, but that is just another chapter in being a manager.

Simon Sinek says, “If you hire people just to do a job they’ll just do it for the money. But if you hire people who believe in what you believe in, they’ll work through blood, sweat and tears.” What this says about how we work and how we communicate our needs and desires can be linked every time to why we work well with our employees or why we don’t. The trick is to continuously communicate that you’re on the same level and that you all believe the same tenets about why you’re doing things. This is where your key metrics and their respective corrective actions line up to truly inspire action. Expectations must be clear along with the accompanying outcomes as well as the consequences if the behavior is not remedied.

One cannot be overly aggressive with corrective action policies because, after all, these are the measures that need to be taken, whether it is an issue with improper planning, poor allocation of resources, or an unmotivated employee.
“Godfather-ism: You have to balance fierce ambition with due patience,” Shawn H. Wilson, President of Usher’s New Look Foundation, New York Times article on Leadership.

Take away—managers cannot let actions slide that support primary directives. Our role is to put things on the right track and keep them there. Key metrics are the guard rails that light up when you are not in line, so that you can… yes…take corrective action.

In the end, corrective actions are simply a way to ensure your key performance indicators are being met and enforced through a process of communicating with the employee to improve behaviors or performance. The goal is to guide the employee to correct performance or behavior by identifying the problems, causes and solutions; not to punish an employee or team for missing a key metric. Your key metrics are the essential indicators of the health of your organization. After all, they track your performance and define your successes and failures. When key metrics are not meeting the defined standards, corrective actions must be taken to solve the problems and promote greater future growth.

By Danielle Lafontaine, Marketing Communications Manager, Red Book Solutions | 5 Years – Digital & Traditional Marketing Copywriter with Ad Agency and Corporate Marketing Experience | Social Media Guru  & Community Builder with B2B and B2C Chops


One response to “The Whipping Stick of the Workplace: Corrective Actions in Motion

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