Ask the Expert: How do I deal with staff misconduct? Ask the Expert: How do I deal with staff misconduct?

Ask the Expert: How do I deal with staff misconduct?
31 Dec 2014

I have been asked to deal with an employee who I believe is guilty of misconduct in my team. I am pretty sure he has been using the internet for a great deal of the day for things other than work. Every time I walk past his desk he closes a page down and shuffles uncomfortably. I am not sure of the best way to approach this.

Check your handbook

Check your contract or handbook to find out what is defined as ‘misconduct’. It might be the case that this specific matter is not defined as ‘misconduct’ as such but may fall under a list of items deemed as such which might include ‘misuse of company property’.

Of course there are the processes, which you will need to check with your company, however everyone must remember that you must treat people fairly and reasonably. Make sure you have not made judgement in advance and give everyone the opportunity for his or her side to be heard.

Act promptly

The first thing to do in a situation like this is to make sure that you act as soon as is reasonable. It is important not to let matters such as these go on and usually if you are aware of something, then it is more than likely the rest of the team is as well. This cannot only impact morale of others but also sends out a message that this sort of behaviour is ok.

An informal approach

If your company policy allows then I would try to go for an informal approach first. However, make sure you keep everything documented. Informal now doesn’t mean that it won’t escalate later.

In this case, take the individual aside and ask them if you can have a chat with them. Make sure the conversation is kept away from prying eyes or ears! At this point mention that this is an informal chat to raise your concerns.

Explain what you have noticed and see how the individual responds. Keep notes of the meeting with a date and time. Tell the individual that you hope to see an improvement in this with immediate effect.

How the individual reacts will often tell you how likely improvement is, normally those who take comments on board and acknowledge their mistakes are more likely to improve than those who are resistant or defensive. Set a date a few weeks into the future to review progress.

Formal approach

If your company does not allow the above approach or if you believe the misconduct is of a significant nature, then you can move to a formal approach whereby you should then follow your company’s disciplinary procedure.

There are certain processes that you must follow in order to make the meeting fair and reasonable. For example, you should always provide the employee with a letter inviting them to the meeting.

The letter should include details of the alleged misconduct, a time and date of the meeting, information in regards to the possible outcome of the meeting and advising them of their right to be accompanied. You will also need to keep detailed, formal notes of the meeting and it is advisable to have a note taker with you if this is possible.

HR expert Claudia Ackenson takes on your HR issues. 

I have been asked to deal with an employee who I believe is guilty of misconduct in my team. I am pretty sure he has been using the internet for a great deal of the day for things other than work. Every time I walk past his desk he closes a page down and shuffles uncomfortably. I am not sure of the best way to approach this.

Check your handbook

Check your contract or handbook to find out what is defined as ‘misconduct’. It might be the case that this specific matter is not defined as ‘misconduct’ as such but may fall under a list of items deemed as such which might include ‘misuse of company property’.

Of course there are the processes, which you will need to check with your company, however everyone must remember that you must treat people fairly and reasonably. Make sure you have not made judgement in advance and give everyone the opportunity for his or her side to be heard.

Act promptly

The first thing to do in a situation like this is to make sure that you act as soon as is reasonable. It is important not to let matters such as these go on and usually if you are aware of something, then it is more than likely the rest of the team is as well. This cannot only impact morale of others but also sends out a message that this sort of behaviour is ok.

An informal approach

If your company policy allows then I would try to go for an informal approach first. However, make sure you keep everything documented. Informal now doesn’t mean that it won’t escalate later.

In this case, take the individual aside and ask them if you can have a chat with them. Make sure the conversation is kept away from prying eyes or ears! At this point mention that this is an informal chat to raise your concerns.

Explain what you have noticed and see how the individual responds. Keep notes of the meeting with a date and time. Tell the individual that you hope to see an improvement in this with immediate effect.

How the individual reacts will often tell you how likely improvement is, normally those who take comments on board and acknowledge their mistakes are more likely to improve than those who are resistant or defensive. Set a date a few weeks into the future to review progress.

Formal approach

If your company does not allow the above approach or if you believe the misconduct is of a significant nature, then you can move to a formal approach whereby you should then follow your company’s disciplinary procedure.

There are certain processes that you must follow in order to make the meeting fair and reasonable. For example, you should always provide the employee with a letter inviting them to the meeting.

The letter should include details of the alleged misconduct, a time and date of the meeting, information in regards to the possible outcome of the meeting and advising them of their right to be accompanied. You will also need to keep detailed, formal notes of the meeting and it is advisable to have a note taker with you if this is possible.

HR expert Claudia Ackenson takes on your HR issues.