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"I've had it!" Tom yelled as Connie walked in late one morning. "You're fired!"

Stunned, Connie packed her things and left the office. Although she had a habit of being late about once a week, other employees in the office were also chronically late and Tom, the office manager, had not made an issue of it. But Tom had other concerns about Connie's work and was using her tardiness as a convenient reason for terminating her employment.

Across town, Suzie was preparing a written warning for Connor because he had failed to comply with company policy when accepting returned merchandise. He had never been told that authorization was required for all returns, and in the past he had accepted other returns, of lesser value, without authorization.

But now he was being written up for accepting a $1300 return without getting management approval!

In today's workplace, business leaders often feel compelled to act fast and make quick decisions, but in their haste, they may easily sacrifice justice for speed. However, by following a simple five-step system, managers can stay on track and make good personnel decisions fairly and equitably.

Clarity Is Key
First, be sure your instructions and training have been clear. King Solomon wrote, "Through presumption comes nothing but strife" (Prov. 13:10 NASB). We cannot hold employees accountable for their performance if we have not adequately trained them and made our expectations clear. On one occasion, I asked a colleague to call a customer back promptly. I meant today, but he assumed that tomorrow morning would be soon enough. The error was mine in not being clear.

Second, develop the habit of listening before you hold employees accountable. When you see a circumstance that looks bad, or a situation where someone has messed up, listen first before passing judgment. King Solomon taught, "He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him" (Prov. 18:13 NASB).

One time I saw a file on an employee's desk that shouldn't have been there, and I promptly started chewing out the young man for his careless handling of sensitive material—only to find out that the file had been mistakenly placed in his inbox and he was endeavoring to find out where it belonged.

We lose nothing by asking for an explanation or clarification, and it could save major embarrassment.

Confirm The Facts
Third, confirm the facts before taking action. Moses wrote, "A single witness shall not rise up against a man...on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed" (Deut. 19:15 NASB).

If you hear about a mistake, ask others to corroborate the information, and talk to the alleged offender before taking action. When a customer of mine claimed that "Tom" had failed to ship a product as promised, I immediately went to Tom to follow through.

It turned out Tom had been off that day, and it was another employee who had made the error.

Maintain Objectivity
Fourth, act impartially toward every employee. To maintain your objectivity, establish clear workplace guidelines, communicate them clearly to all employees, and consistently uphold the standards.

If you have determined, for example, that five unexcused absences in a year are grounds for termination, don't accept one person's excuses while terminating someone else for the same offense. Consider the example of Joseph in Scripture: "But his brothers hated Joseph because of their father's partiality. They couldn't say a kind word to him" (Gen. 37:4 NLT).

We all bring personal biases that hinder our objectivity in the workplace. We tend to prefer colleagues who share common interests or whose personalities click with ours. But as managers, it is imperative that we maintain objective standards.

Discipline Promptly
Finally, when you must discipline an employee, do it promptly. As Solomon wrote, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore [their] hearts...are given fully to do evil" (Eccl. 8:11 NASB). Disciplinary action, when done justly, should also be done promptly.

Job said, "Let God weigh me in honest scales, and he will know that I am blameless" (Job 31:6 NIV). Accept the responsibility of weighing your employees' performance on honest scales, and you will build a stronger workplace team.

Copyright © Business Proverbs
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Steve Marr
Web site: The Life
Steve Marr has learned from 40 years of business experience that God's way works. As an author, speaker and business consultant, Marr helps companies and organizations apply the ancient wisdom of the Bible to avoid the common mistakes and headaches of growing a business.

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