E. Staff Leadership

1. The transparency of Open Books- earning employee trust

Open-book management is a management phrase coined by John Case of Inc. magazine, who began using the term in 1993. The concept's most visible success has been achieved by Jack Stack and his team at SRC Holdings.

Why Open Book Management is an excellent way to run a business:

a. Better results

b. It's in line with our company values

c. It builds commitment

d. It leads to better decisions

e. It teaches everyone-dishwashers included-to think like an owner

What does it look like when it works? Here's a real-life example: French Fries at Zingerman's Roadhouse.


As is so often the case in newly opened restaurants, the food cost at the Roadhouse was way too high in our first few months of operation. The issues in these sorts of situations are almost always the same food cost is too high because of poor pricing, poor purchasing, poor portioning, excessive waste, or theft. But finding out exactly where those issues are manifesting themselves isn't ever that easy.


In looking to identify areas of excessive waste we actually asked one of the dishwashers to report at the weekly huddle on the top five areas of waste that he'd noticed. Why the dishwasher? Who else sees all the plates that come back to the kitchen? Within a matter of weeks, he identified that the most oft-thrown item was French Fries. Where they no good? No. People loved them. But he'd identified that the problem was that the portion was simply bigger than it needed to be. The solution? Cut the portion in half and offer free refills! Simple to implement, saved us thousands of dollars a year and actually increased our guests' sense of value since they know they can get extra fries free for the asking. At the most a dozen people a week actually ask for them. But the perceived value of being able to get them at no added cost is huge! All thanks to a dishwasher who was getting involved in the finances of a three-month-old, three million dollar business.


2. Performance Based Incentives and Harvest Sharing

As a franchisee, you are not mandatorily required to adopt our system of giving performance-based incentives. On the other hand, we would like to tackle this program in our training module so you are informed, should you want to have the same program integrated into your system.

A performance-linked incentive (PLI) is a form of payment from an employer to an employee, which is directly related to the performance output of an employee and which may be specified in an employment contract. PLI may either be open-ended (does not have a fixed ceiling) or close-ended (has an upper ceiling which is normally stipulated in the employment contract).

Open-ended incentives are normally applicable to revenue-generating activities (e.g., sales), while close-ended incentives are associated with support functions (e.g., operations, human resources, administration, etc.).

Why we give structured performance-based incentives?

a. Improve profitability - The number-one reason why your business should initiate a structured incentive plan is to improve your business through increased profits, boost return on equity (ROE) and receive a return on investment (ROI).

The premise behind incentives is not only to improve your business but to allow employees to share in the returns, and therefore take a stronger interest in the overall health of your company. Properly-designed incentives align the interests of you, the owner, and your employees towards productive and profitable goals.

b. Improve productivity - Incentives can be tied to an increase in productivity and encourage your employees to be more efficient, improve systems and processes and eliminate waste. At the same time, a structured incentive plan should be well-balanced across the individual, division and company-wide goals so that the results do not inadvertently create unwanted behavior or divisions among teams or within your company.

Creating clear, well-balanced goals across all employee tiers is key to improving productivity and achieving success.

c. Reward the best - Simply put, a structured incentive plan gives recognition to the key people who make significant contributions to your company.

While some may argue that money is a poor motivator, most studies conclude that employees want to feel that their work and contribution to the company is recognized and appreciated. A monetary reward makes their contribution to your company concrete in addition to public and personal celebrations.

d. Support your business’s strategy, vision and purpose - A successful incentive plan should reinforce company performance to your business’s overall strategy, vision and purpose and reward behaviors that support these goals. An example of this is safety. When safety is important to a business they include it in their mission statement and outline with specific objectives.

Individual objectives within a structured incentive plan can contain these safety measures and reward behaviors that create a safer company.

e. Improve teamwork - Teamwork skillsets are often highly sought-after in recruiting new employees and are part of ongoing teamwork development. A discretionary bonus plan that is unequal can make teams reluctant to cooperate and support one another, even turning teams against one another. The consequence of this is an individualistic “all about me” mentality.

On the other hand, a discretionary bonus that is equal across the company tends to create “free-rider” mentality and employees often do just enough to get by. A structured performance-based incentive will align individual, team/division and company-wide goals that creates a unified harmony.

f. Improve morale - A discretionary bonus tends to create frustration where employees do not understand how their work impacts the firm, how they can achieve a random set of goals, or how the company’s compensation system works. This confusion is often times a reason for high turnover within the company. Other factors include:

1) The environment of the company

2) The relationship between the employee and their manager

3) The ability to engage in meaningful, challenging work

4) Proper work and personal life balance

5) A sense of contribution to the good of the company and the community

A structured incentive plan helps establish the relationship between performance factors so that employees can clearly see the rewards from their efforts and feel improved self-esteem and confidence, and helps foster a positive, team-oriented environment.

g. Attract and retain top talent - As an owner, the ability to create a legacy that lasts beyond your departure from your business and help you transition out of the business is hinged on your ability to attract and retain top talent.

Finding talent is difficult, and retaining talent is even more difficult. A structured incentive plan where compensation and performance targets are clearly understood will help your business stay competitive in the marketplace and will also retain talent long-term.

h. Tying it all together - Integrating a structured performance-based incentive plan can sound like a lot of work, involving more people and complexity than the owner wants. This does not have to be the case if you take your time to design the plan properly.

If done right, structured performance incentives can align the interests of you, the owner, and your employees towards productive and profitable goals that support your company’s strategy and vision, improve morale and increase business value.

3. Recruitment program

How you plan your recruiting is important not only to ensure you find the right person for a job opening but also because the costs of bad recruitment decisions can be very high in terms of both time and money.

The following steps can help make sure your business has an effective recruitment plan:

a. Determine your recruitment goals

A recruitment plan should be based on your business goals. For example, are you planning to expand or change your business? What skills are required to accomplish this objective? From there, you should establish specific recruitment goals. One goal will be attracting the best people to work in your business. The best people will make a direct difference to your bottom line, helping to raise your service and quality level. People who are less than dedicated to your business can compromise customer experiences.

Some other recruitment goals include:

1) Attracting a higher standard of candidate

2) Attracting a candidate who has skills you currently do not have in your organization

3) Promoting your company as a dynamic place where people want to work

4) Determine your overall recruitment needs by having well-established business goals.

b. Review job descriptions

Take time to review the job description, which may need to be changed since the last person was hired. Or, if it is a new position, you may need to create a new job description. You may want to talk to the previous person in the position and get their input on how the job description could be improved, and what the highlights of the job were. Make sure the description includes all of the critical job related components.

c. Consider people-finding strategies

How you find staff for your business can be divided into short-term and long-term recruiting techniques. Short-term techniques are designed to generate an immediate selection of candidates. Long-term techniques involve developing relationships with key people and the community and promoting your company as a rewarding place to work. The focus is on keeping long-term relationships with people who have the potential to work for your organization.

It may be a good idea to plan to use both short and long-term recruiting strategies. Developing long-term relationships can include strategies like offering scholarships to university students, donations and sponsorships to community organizations, or opening up your business for high school practicums.

There are always two pools of candidates available: employees already working for you, and external candidates. Friends and acquaintances of employees are always a good place to start. You may want to think about offering a recruitment incentive to encourage employees to spread the word (for example, a cash incentive or gift certificate if the person they recommend is hired).

When posting your advertisements, ask yourself if you’ve selected newspapers, journals, websites and mailing lists that reach a diverse pool of applicants. Be sure to allow sufficient time for both internal and external recruitment.

Have you considered hiring co-op students, immigrants, indigenous peoples, people on social assistance or EI, persons with disabilities, or baby boomers? Sometimes the right person for the job may not be from the most obvious pool of applicants.

e. Appreciate the perception of your workplace from the outside

How your workplace is perceived or positioned will affect how candidates respond to job postings. To stand out in the job market, employers must offer something different from competitors. For example, many tourism employers provide seasonal hiring; an inability to offer permanent, full-time positions can set limits on the selection of candidates. Yet this can be turned into something more appealing by offering ongoing summer employment from year to year.

If you’ve had trouble in the past generating suitable responses from job postings, ask yourself how you are perceived as someone to work for and how your employees feel about the business. An anonymous employee survey might prove helpful to find out how you compare to competitors in terms of salary, work environment, vacation, and job duties. And remember that money is not always what people are looking for—frequently, it’s the intangible benefits that keep potential employees interested.

f. Keep a short list

Once your job ads are posted, be sure that you are clear about your selection criteria. What skills do you need to add to your business? How will you choose one candidate over another?

Short-listing is the first step in identifying the candidates who display the skills and selection criteria you are looking for. Shortlisting—when done well—can cut down on interviewing time later on. You may want to draw a simple grid with your selection criteria on one side and the names of candidates on another. Your selection criteria can then be listed in order of importance, with marks assigned to each candidate according to whether or not to interview when you review resumes and cover letters.

Be sure to notify short-listed candidates of the interview date and time as soon as possible. It’s also often a good idea to keep a small number of applicants on a reserve list in case some of the short-listed candidates are unavailable.

g. Hone your interviewing technique

Before interviewing, develop job-related questions so there are no awkward pauses, and so you remain in charge of the interview. Be sure to ask open-ended questions that allow the candidate to tell you about themselves, such as “What are some things you would like to avoid in a job? Why?” and “In your previous job what kind of pressures did you face?”

h. Check thoroughly before making a job offer

Have you obtained a signed application, conducted reference checks and scheduled background checks? Have you determined a salary offer based upon market, qualifications and internal comparisons?

i. Follow through after a candidate has accepted

Have you confirmed the offer in writing and advised other employees within the company? Be sure to make arrangements for the candidate’s start date well ahead of time. You’ll also want to advise the other candidates that the position has been filled.

With the right recruitment plan in place, you’ll be in a better position to hire the best people for your company.

4. New Hire Documents​

Your first responsibility for paperwork and regulations for new employees comes immediately after hire.  Before the employee starts work and receives his or her first paycheck, there are some forms you are required to have the employee complete.  These forms must be completed by every employee, according to both federal and state laws. 

In most cases, you don't need to return the forms to anyone, but you must keep them. When these forms are completed, you should keep them in a specific location, available to employees and others who need to see them. The U.S. Department of Labor (under the Wage and Hour Division) has specific requirements for payroll and personnel records that must be kept on all employees.

Federal, state, and local agencies can also audit your employee records for a variety of reasons, so keeping records is important.

a. Form W-4 for Federal Income Tax Withholding

All new hires must complete Form W-4 before receiving their first paycheck.  This form includes information on marital status, number of dependents, and designated additional withholding amounts. It is used to calculate withholding for federal income taxes. You don't have to keep copies of all W-4 forms, just the most recent one.

Employers should not give employees advice on how to complete this form, but you can direct them to an IRS article that helps them complete this form. 

Be sure to use the most recent version of the W-4 form. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made significant changes to the withholding tables and employees may want to change their withholding to avoid having too much tax taken from their paychecks. You should be using the 2018 W-4 form for new hires and for employees who want to make changes to their form. 

Employees may change their W-4 form as often as they like. For example, an employee may receive a bonus and want to change withholding. It is your responsibility as the employer to keep track of the latest change and to make sure employee paychecks reflect the wishes of the employee for withholding.

b. Form I-9 and E-Verify System for Employment Eligibility

As an employer, you must document the eligibility of new employees to work in the U.S. The document you must use is Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, which must be completed by each new hire.  The new employee must provide documentation of  (1) identity and  (2) work eligibility.

There are two steps to the I-9 process. First, the employee fills out the form and states what identity and work eligibility documents will be used. Then, you as the employer must look at those documents and make sure they are adequate and appropriate.

You must keep this form in the employee's record, but you don't need to send it to anyone. If an immigration officer comes to your company or wants to inspect your employee documents, the form is your proof that you verified the employee's work eligibility.

Larger employers (with many employees) can sign up for the E-Verify system and use it to check on the eligibility of new employees to work in the U.S.  The system uses the information on Form I-9 to compare with federal databases.

c.  Job Application Form

Each new employee must complete a job application form, even if this person has already submitted a resume for the job.  The job application form contains information about the new employee that can be verified, like previous employers and education.  It also includes several statements the applicant must sign. 

One statement on the application form attests that the information on the application is true and correct, while other statements allow the employer to conduct reference checks and background checks.

Having an application form for every employee protects you as an employer from an applicant making fraudulent claims, and allows you to take action if the application form is not accurate. 

d.  State Withholding and Registration

Employers must register new employees with their state's new hire notification system; this registration allows the state to collect child support payments from these employees.  A list of the state notification systems is included in this article.

Each state that collects income taxes has requirements for employers to report and pay those taxes. Contact your state department of revenue (or equivalent) for information on how to register as an employer in the state.  This state agency will also give you information on withholding forms and requirements for reporting and paying withheld amounts.

For states that have an income tax, you will need to deduct these taxes from employee paychecks and send the withheld taxes to the appropriate state agency.

e.  A Checklist for Hiring New Employees

f.  Your Employee Manual/Handbook

If your business has several employees, you should have an employee handbook or policies and procedures manual. A handbook may include work process descriptions and benefits in addition to policies and procedures.) All new employees should receive a copy of this handbook and should sign that they have read and understood it.

The employee handbook becomes a legally binding document for both you and your employees. Having employees read the employee handbook can help prevent disgruntled employees, unmet expectations, and possible lawsuits.

5. Effective Performance Appraisals

These tips are applicable in your daily conversations with employees. They are also critical in your periodic, formal meetings with employees to discuss job goals and performance. These ten tips will help you make performance reviews positive and motivational. They will improve—not deflate—your ability to interact with your reporting employees.

The employee should never hear about positive performance or performance in need of improvement for the first time at your formal performance discussion meeting unless it is new information or insight. Effective managers discuss both positive performance and areas for improvement regularly, even daily or weekly. Aim to make the contents of the performance review discussion a re-emphasis of critical points.

In the interest of providing regular feedback, performance reviews are not an annual event. Quarterly meetings are recommended with employees. In one mid-sized company, job planning and evaluation occurs twice a year. Career development planning for employees is also scheduled twice a year, so the employee discusses his or her job and career, formally, four times a year.

No matter the components of your performance review process, the first step is goal setting. It is imperative that the employee knows exactly what is expected of his or her performance. Your periodic discussions about performance need to focus on these significant portions of the employee’s job.

You need to document this job plan: goals and expectations in a job plan or job expectations format, or in your employer's format. Without a written agreement and a shared picture of the employee’s goals, success for the employee is unlikely.

During preparation and goal setting, you need to make how you will evaluate the employee’s performance clear. Describe exactly what you’re looking for from the employee and exactly how you will assess the performance. Discuss with the employee her role in the evaluation process. If your organization’s performance review process includes an employee self-evaluation, share the form and talk about what self-evaluation entails.

a. Sharing Performance Review Format

Make sure that you also share the performance review format with the employee, so she is not surprised at the end of the performance review time period. A significant component of this evaluation discussion is to share with the employee how your organization will assess performance.

The employee needs to understand that if he does what is expected, he will be considered a performing employee. In some organizations that rank employees, this is the equivalent of a three on a five-point scale. An employee must do more than just perform to be considered an outstanding employee.

Avoid the horns and halo effect in which everything discussed in the meeting involves positive and negative recent events. Recent events color your judgment of the employee’s performance. Instead, you are responsible for documenting positive occurrences such as completed projects, and negative occurrences such as a missed deadline, during the entire period of time that the performance review covers. 

In some organizations, these are called critical incident reports. Ask the employee to do the same so that together you develop a comprehensive look at the employee’s performance during the time period that your discussion covers.

Net Performance Score

Whenever we get a complaint indicating dissatisfaction in workmanship performance, we take away 20 points (equivalent to $20.00) from the Harvest Sharing (productivity pay), whether the customer requests the job to be re-done or not.


The employee is given a period of two weeks maximum to attend to the complaint. Failure to resolve the complaint takes away ten points more ($10).


While we recognize that nobody's perfect, we also value excellent customer service, which is why we have the Meticulous Workmanship Guarantee. It would be unfair to the company to pay them a productivity bonus in full when the company is getting negative feedback for their workmanship. For this purpose, we have a weekly performance evaluation sheet.

b. Solicit Feedback

Solicit feedback from colleagues who have worked closely with the employee. Sometimes called 360-degree feedback because you are obtaining feedback for the employee from his boss, coworkers, and any reporting staff, you use the feedback to broaden the performance information that you provide for the employee.

Start with informal discussions to obtain feedback information. Consider developing a format so that the feedback is easy to digest and share with the manager. If your company uses a form that you fill out in advance of the meeting, give the performance review to the employee in advance of the meeting. This allows the employee to digest the contents before her discussion of the details with you. This simple gesture can remove a lot of the emotion and drama from the performance review meeting.

c. Preparing for a Discussion

Prepare for the discussion with the employee. Never go into a performance review without preparation. If you wing it, performance reviews fail. You will miss key opportunities for feedback and improvement, and the employee will not feel encouraged about his successes. The documentation that you maintained during the performance review period serves you well as you prepare for an employee's performance review.

If needed, practice approaches with your Human Resources staff, a colleague, or your manager. Jot notes with the main points of feedback. Include bullet points that clearly illustrate the point you plan to make to the employee. The more you can identify patterns and give examples, the better the employee will understand and be able to act upon the feedback.

d. Meeting with an Employee

When you meet with the employee, spend time on the positive aspects of his or her performance. In most cases, the discussion of the positive components of the employee’s performance should take up more time than that of the negative components.

For your above average performing employees and your performing employees, positive feedback and discussion about how the employee can continue to grow her performance should comprise the majority of the discussion. The employee will find this rewarding and motivating.

No employee’s performance is completely negative—if so, why does the employee still work for your organization? But, don’t neglect the areas that need improvement either. Especially for an underperforming employee, speak directly and don’t mince words. If you are not direct, the employee will not understand the seriousness of the performance situation. Use examples from the whole time period covered by the performance review.

e. Conversation is Key to a Productive Performance Meeting

The spirit in which you approach this conversation will make the difference in whether it is effective. If your intention is genuine, to help the employee improve, and you have a positive relationship with the employee, the conversation is easier and more effective.

The employee has to trust that you want to help him improve his performance. He needs to hear you say that you have confidence in his ability to improve. This helps him believe that he has the ability and the support necessary to improve.

Conversation is the keyword when you define a performance review meeting. If you are doing all of the talking or the meeting becomes a lecture, the performance review is less effective. The employee will feel as if he was yelled at and treated unjustly. This is not how you want employees feeling as they leave their performance reviews.

You want an employee who is motivated and excited about his ability to continue to grow, develop, and contribute. Aim for performance review meetings in which the employee talks more than half of the time. You can encourage this conversation by asking questions such as these:

1) What do you expect to be the most challenging about your goals for this quarter?

2) What support can the department provide for you that will help you reach these goals?

3) What are your hopes for your achievements at our company this year?

4) How can I be a better manager for you?

5) What kind of schedule can we set up so that you don't feel micromanaged, but I receive the feedback that I need as to your progress on your goals?

6) What would be a helpful agenda for our weekly one-on-one meetings?

If you take these performance review tips to heart and practice these recommendations in your performance review meetings, you will develop a significant tool for your management tool bag. The performance review can enhance your relationship with employees, improve performance for your organization, and enhance employee-manager communication significantly—a boon for customers and work relationships.​

6. Disciplinary Forms

In order to maintain order and respect in the workplace, you need to have a plan in place that will benefit everyone involved. Try these steps to learn how to effectively discipline an employee:

a. Know what the law says about employee discipline.

Discipline can come in several forms, depending on the issue and how often it happens. It might be something as mild as coaching or as serious as a verbal or written warning. U.S. federal laws don’t outline specific plans to be used for employee discipline. Employers have basic leeway in choosing their approach.

However, there are laws that broadly cover employee discipline and termination issues. For example, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), which only applies to businesses of certain sizes, the National Labor Relations Law, which deals with unionized employees, or laws pertaining to age discrimination and civil rights in regards to employment.

For the most part, though, discipline and termination is left up to you, the employer. That doesn’t mean it’s a legal free-for-all. There are legal issues to consider once the process of discipline is started. You put yourself at legal risk when you have:

1) A company policy that doesn’t protect your right to terminate at will.

2) Not clearly informed employees what behavior is acceptable.

3) Managers that show favoritism and don’t discipline consistently.

4) Managers who discipline for wrong reasons, or in an illegal or abusive manner.

5) Not documented or collected evidence of employee behavior issues over a period of time.

It’s a good idea to have your lawyer review your employee discipline policies in the employee handbook just to be on the safe side.

b. Establish clear rules for employees.

Being clear about your employment policies is imperative. You can’t begin to discipline an employee for behavior they didn’t know was unacceptable. There are a few common areas you’ll want to cover in your employee handbook and training:

1) Employment-at-will is not a federal law. Rather, it’s a standard practice business owners often adopt. It means that employers can terminate an employee for any reason with or without notice. Employees also have the same right to end the working relationship just as easily. If you want to use this technique, you need to be clear about this in writing.

2) Attire and dress codes are a common struggle for businesses, particularly when your workforce is made up of younger workers. Be clear about what is acceptable, but make sure you aren’t violating any discrimination laws.

3) Behavior rules are tricky to define. They include how employees get along with coworkers, how they treat customers, discriminatory actions, appropriate use of language, and so on. Put in writing what you expect.

4) Productivity and work ethic involves how much you expect an employee to do, and specific duties and benchmarks for specific jobs. You will also want to address tardiness.

5) Mobile device usage has become so prevalent that it’s worth noting on its own instead of burying it in behavior codes. Be specific about what you allow and what is unacceptable.

6) Illegal behavior, such as theft, illegal drug use, intoxication, or violence, are grounds for immediate termination, whether you use a progressive discipline process or not.

In general, don’t assume. Don’t assume they know they can’t show up to work ten minutes late all the time. Lay it all out, in writing, and go over it with them. Have them sign the employee handbook that these rules are located in so that you have documentation that they heard and understand what is expected of them.

c. Establish clear rules for your managers.

Any time a manager fails to discipline an employee in the same manner or procedure as a different employee, you set yourself up for legal action for unequal treatment. This often happens when you have several departments and managers who have a different “management style.” One might be more law-and-order, while another is more lenient.

All managers must be consistent in putting your disciplinary policies into action. There are federal laws that require you to apply discipline equally and consistently. To keep managers on the same page:

1) Hold regular manager training, and make discipline policy review a prominent part.

2) Be sure managers understand they should not make promises of future employment if behavior or productivity improves, since this can be seen as contractual by employees.

3) Pay attention to disciplinary issues to be sure all employees are having the same experience.

4) Have a common form for all managers and departments to use when they write up an employee for a disciplinary infraction, if you use written notices as part of the process. Be sure they fill out the form in full.

5) Have a system which allows you to easily review disciplinary write-ups.

6) Pay attention during employee reviews for hints that there are issues with the equal treatment of employees by different managers. Make it a point to ask about this issue.

7) Discipline your managers if they fail to uphold your own policies.

d. Decide what discipline method you will use.


There are any number of discipline methods you might use.
All discipline methods are based on the idea that there is a goal or benchmark that needs to be met, and that not meeting it puts something into motion. You can approach that in a punitive or rehabilitative manner.  

Character is the first and most important core value we consider in our company. Without character, we will not have the impact that we desire. We take this very seriously. We will extend grace when it comes to mistakes and errors, giving people a chance to grow and improve in their jobs. On the other hand, we are not tolerant of violations coupled with dishonest behavior. Dishonesty is not acceptable. We need to know that we can trust a co-worker without question.

Your discipline method is your preference but you must take into account what you think will work best for your business and what you are comfortable using.

1) Progressive discipline is the process where you increase the level of severity of your discipline when an employee fails to correct an issue. It’s a common approach because it tends to protect employers from legal action, but not everyone is a fan. This generally takes a punitive approach, but you can mix rehabilitative elements (e.g. training) into it. If progressive discipline is your official process and you are in a state where the employee handbook is seen as contractual, it may keep you from immediate termination no matter what the circumstances. You may want to clarify under what circumstances progressive discipline will be enacted, and when immediate firing (employment-at-will) is in effect.

2) Training and performance improvement plans are less about fixating on a problem and using the threat of termination, and instead see each employee as valuable and worth investing in. They are a rehabilitative approach. Performance improvement plans (PIPs) may have check-in points, measurable goals, and a process to help an employee if they don’t meet these goals.

3) Reassignment or suspensions are often associated with behavioral issues or severe conflict in which the employee has to be removed from a situation immediately but termination isn’t called for. Reassignment means retraining (rehabilitative) while suspension means some condition must be met before the suspension is over or the employee is terminated (punitive).

Let’s look at an example of a progressive disciplinary process at work. Your own might vary.

a1) Verbal warning. Tactful verbal warnings should be given when an employee exhibits behavior that goes against the rules.

a2) Written warning. A written warning document in detail what the problem is, how the employee should change behavior to fix this problem, and what will happen if they don’t. These warnings should be signed by the manager, a witness, and the employee. A copy should be given to the employee as well as kept in his file. You may choose to issue more than one written warning before moving to the next step.

a3) Final warning. Employees are told all of the instances the unacceptable behavior occurred, including verbal and written warnings. Managers should note what employees were told to do to improve, and how they failed to do it. It should be made clear that termination is possible if improvement doesn’t happen.

a4) Probation. Some employers might want to give their employee one last chance to make a change before termination. Probation might include reduction in pay or re-training or close supervision.

a5) Termination. If the problem is not solved, you should bring the employee in, go over all of the documentation, discuss the process and attempts to make change, and terminate the employee.

Remember that the more detailed they are and the more process-oriented your policy is (e.g. progressive discipline), the less power you have to terminate immediately. As you create the discipline process, consider how it will play out in the types of situations you deal with.

e. Document employee discipline.

When you suddenly find yourself in a worst-case scenario, documentation is going to help you out. If employee discipline leads to firing or legal action, having no documentation to refer as a reason for disciplinary action will leave you open to possible legal consequences.

e. Document employee discipline.

When you suddenly find yourself in a worst-case scenario, documentation is going to help you out. If employee discipline leads to firing or legal action, having no documentation to refer as a reason for disciplinary action will leave you open to possible legal consequences.

Documentation consists of two types:

1) For the employee file. This is the documentation and notes you make and keep in the employee file but do not share with the employee. These are often the notes you might use during an employee review or when you’ve given the employee a verbal warning. These don’t count as “official” written warnings that start the process towards termination that the employee receives, but are instead a record that shows a pattern of behavior. Be sure you alert employees in your handbook that you do keep a written record of this nature.

2) For written warnings. If you’re using written warnings, this is the type of documentation you share with an employee in private that is part of your discipline process. These types of warnings are usually a sign that early disciplinary processes have come and gone and you are progressing along towards possible termination if the employee doesn’t make changes.

It’s important to document issues, even if it’s as simple as noting when an employee comes in late or is not prepared. If you simply mentally note all of the problems and then, out of the blue when you can’t put up with it any more, fire or aggressively discipline an employee, it’s not fair to the employee. They may not have known that what they were doing was such a big deal.

f. Be proactive by using employee reviews.

Regular employee reviews, even for small businesses, are a proactive approach to employee discipline. Reviews are pretty flexible; they can be worked into just about any discipline process. They’re also useful if you don’t want to get locked into a progressive approach but instead want to help build the employee up and encourage (through coaching and training) better performance or behavior.

Documentation of behavior (good and bad) and productivity over time is what makes the difference between a great review and a waste of time. You have specifics to talk about, and that’s helpful.

g. Get the right mindset.


It’s important that managers don’t see employee discipline as punishing an employee.

This is a common failure in the progressive discipline in which it’s easy to slip into a mentality of “if you don’t do X, I’ll punish you by escalating this.”
Employees aren’t your children, and thinking that negative punishment will bring about a positive result is foolish. At best, you’ll get the right behavior but the employee will likely feel resentment. As soon as a better job opportunity comes along, you’ll probably see those employees leave.


h. Stop focusing on productivity as your ultimate measure.


If managers are so focused on productivity, it’s too easy for them to let bad behavior slide as long as productivity goals are being met. Guess what inevitably happens?

You could call it the nuclear option. Problems grow and grow and it gets to the point where the only option a manager has, after ignoring issues for so long, is to take immediate and drastic action.

Productive employees can still be creating problems, possibly even making employees around them less productive.

i. Follow your own guidelines.

Last but not least: whatever employee discipline policy you create, follow it. It’s surprising how many employee rules and guidelines are created and then ignored by management. If you have it in the handbook and employees have agreed to it, your managers must follow it.

7. Recommended Window Cleaner Pay Program

8. Recommend Operational Manager Pay Program

9. Recommended Sales Person Pay Program

10. Employee Manual

An employee handbook, sometimes also known as an employee manual, staff handbook, or company policy manual, is a book given to employees by an employer. Usually, the employee handbook contains several key sections and includes information about company culture, policies, and procedures.

The employee handbook can be used to bring together employment and job-related information which employees need to know. It typically has three types of content:

a. Cultural: A welcome statement, the company's mission or purpose, company values, and more.

b. General Information: holiday arrangements, company perks, policies not required by law, policy summaries, and more.

c. Case-Specific: company policies, rules, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and other information modeled after employment laws or regulations.

Acknowledgement of receipt form:

New employees are often required to sign an acknowledgment form stating they have received, read and understand the information within the employee handbook and accept its terms.

Acknowledgment forms typically have additional content:

a. A disclaimer that the handbook is not a contract or other employment agreement.

b. A statement that the handbook may change over time with or without notice and the employee agrees to these changes. This is an attempt by employers to protect themselves from liability if a policy changes and the employee is not explicitly notified about the change.

c. At-will employers will also typically state the fact that employment is at-will and the employment relationship may be terminated at any time for any reason with or without cause.

Failure of an employee to sign the acknowledgement form within a timely manner may prevent them from being hired or may result in termination.

A copy of our employee handbook is part of your franchise kit.

12. Employee Recognition

Regular recognition is an easy answer to ensuring your employees want to stay with you. In the book How Full Is Your Bucket, their research found that people that receive regular recognition:

a. Increase their individual productivity

b. Increase engagement among their colleagues

c. Is more likely to stay with their organization

d. Receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customer

Companies with a solid strategy to recognize team members enjoy stronger engagement, increased employee morale, better customer service, and lower turnover. While you are not required to follow Happy Window Cleaning’s reward system (harvest sharing), you need to find the right employee recognition program for your company.

14. College Scholarship Program​

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5355 Northland Dr. NE Suite 210

Grand Rapids MI 49525

Tel. No. 616.914.0720