This blog was written by Brandon White, Director of Human Resources at Helpside. Brandon has more than a decade of experience, allowing him to make complicated employment situations and regulations approachable for small businesses.

Writing up your employees can be a stressful and uncomfortable experience. Imagine you have an employee who you love working with, but they keep falling short on performance goals. They are falling behind enough that it warrants a written or verbal warning. You get along well with this employee but expect that correction in any form will be uncomfortable at best and possibly even poorly received. However, you know that if you allow the below standard performance to continue, it will reduce morale and bring your company down.

The best solution is to give the employee direct feedback, but that is easier said than done. People naturally shy away from conflict of any kind and giving direct feedback can feel very uncomfortable. Although this challenge may seem overwhelming, there are several simple steps you can take to improve your confidence when speaking to employees about necessary changes in performance or behavior.

The Steps to Success

  • The first step is to give the employee a verbal warning. This warning should explain the poor behavior, why it’s harmful, and what will happen if the behavior doesn’t change. Also, make sure to put in writing the date and reason you gave a verbal warning, and put it in the employee’s file.
  • If nothing changes, then you issue a written warning. You can have multiple written warnings depending on the situation and your company process. Written warnings also need to be filed in a standard format like the Corrective Action Notification Form.
  • Sometimes the situation is severe enough to call for a final warning. This is essentially an ultimatum where if the employee doesn’t get performance or behavior up to standard in a certain amount of time, they will be terminated.
  • An optional step between final warning and termination is called Decision Making Leave. It gives employees one last chance to make a change before being terminated. It needs to be documented like this Decision Making Leave Worksheet.

Once all these steps are completed, the employee should be performing at company standard or be terminated. Terminating employees isn’t easy but keeping employees who are not performing isn’t either. Helpside has tools to make termination conversation easier as well. Reach out to us at for assistance.

Disciplining your employees can be difficult and stressful even for the most seasoned managers. Having the mindset that what you are doing is in the best interest of both the employee and the company and following the steps above can help to guide you through this tricky situation.