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PAS could discuss a manager's concern about a pending decision to use disciplinary action to help him or her gain clarity, offer support in managing stress associated with the decision, or address personal fears. However, PAS would not render a psychological judgment in general regarding the risk of a disciplinary action. Doing so interferes with management processes and violates an ethical boundary of non-interference by PAS. If PAS engaged in this process, it could be viewed as authorizing, consenting to, approving, and/or sanctioning the decision. This could produce division within your management group if PAS was counter to the opinion of others. Some managers might agree, while others may not. Management might feel forced to accept whatever PAS recommended. This bind would potentially compromise PAS's ability to attract employees and managers. A consult with Duke Human Resources' Staff and Labor Relations, a third-party consultant, or other management advisors should be considered.

It is important to document specific details in a corrective action letter. You should send the letter to your department head and HR representative for approval prior to giving the letter to the employee. Here are some of the key elements to include in a corrective action letter:

  • Include date incident occurred.
  • Cite the specific behavior that was seen, heard, said, etc.
  • Mention negative effects or outcome of incident on immediate work unit or operation.
  • State unacceptability of event/incident and why it is unacceptable.
  • Reference any similar past events. For example, ___.
  • State larger impact and effect on productivity for organization.
  • State that you are anticipating this won't happen again.
  • Invite employee to meet and discuss issues, concerns, or precipitating events to prevent any future incident.
  • Provide a strong recommendation to visit PAS confidentially to discuss any problem that may be associated with the issue.
  • Give phone number to PAS.
  • Thank employee for attention to the matter.
  • Invite employee to discuss any other concerns.
  • Copy next-level supervisor and HR representative.

This is one example of a structured letter with essential elements. However, your HR department may also have recommendations for you.

Beyond following up later and affirming the positive changes in her attendance, the situation with this employee seems to have been handled well. This is a self-referral and a great example of how PAS performs, but there are a couple of tips worth considering. Depending on the seriousness of this attendance issue, offering the employee the opportunity to use your phone or to call PAS "now" from your office might be effective in helping ensure she does in fact use PAS. It's the employee's choice, of course. The second is to be firm and supportive but clear that if the attendance problem does not change, then you will be considering the next steps in correcting the problem. This will also facilitate follow-through because a disciplinary step is implied without it being committed to it yet. 

The term "constructive confrontation" has many definitions and applications in human interaction, but in the work setting it typically refers to a purposeful and planned meeting with an employee experiencing performance or conduct issues to motivate the worker to make improvements or desired changes. Although a constructive confrontation may utilize mention of disciplinary action, this is not a required element. Most employees perceive the supervisor to be a legitimate authority figure who has control or influence over the disciplinary processes. This is a dynamic of authority, and it is not overlooked by employees when confronted by supervisors. This dynamic is also helpful to instill motivation. Supervisors who socialize frequently with subordinates or are viewed by them as a friend may experience more difficulty in succeeding with constructive confrontations. This is because the dynamic of authority has eroded. Reasserting this authority can be tough because it requires choices that stress the friendship.