How to Reprimand an Employee the Right Way

Even the best employee occasionally makes a mistake that can’t be brushed off. How you handle this situation will decide whether or not this can move more swiftly. If you do the wrong thing, you and your employee will be dealing with this mistake for a long time to come. If you handle it properly, it can fade into a memory very soon. It’s a tough call to make, but the odds are good that you can keep moving forward and enjoying yourself and your employee doesn’t have to rue the day that he made that mistake. Here’s how to handle things so they don’t blow up in your face.

Start with a Compliment

Employees Know When They Have made A Mistake
Employees Know When They Have made A Mistake
The first thing that you should do is open with a compliment. You should let him know that there isn’t a better bookkeeper than him, usually. You know that he’s a valuable man to have on the team and you don’t mean to imply otherwise even accidentally. This will help soothe his ego. Often, workers know that they’ve made a mistake before you come to talk to him about it. Doing this will soothe his ego so that he’s not on the defensive. You don’t want to chew him out right off the bat, and this will help you sound like you understand that he works hard and does a very good job for you. Sometimes things just need to happen this way, that’s all. Make the compliment sincere, and if possible have it be related to the work that he made a mistake on. It’s good to tell him he’s a good bookkeeper, but if he made a mistake with a client instead you should say that mostly he makes people laugh and a lot of your clients like that about him.

Don’t Sound Angry When You Reprimand

Don't Sound Angry
Don’t Sound Angry
Even if he made a serious mistake, try not to sound angry. He’s going to be upset himself, and defensive, and he’s going to be afraid that there’s going to be personal animosity between the two of you now. You should let your tone convey the idea that things are still fine. There’s no reason for him to think that they aren’t going to work out for you and he to continue to work together. Plus, when people know that someone is angry at them they’re probably going to be angry in return. It’s just human nature. You should just calmly explain what the problem was with their behavior, and what you would like them to do in the future if he’s ever in that situation again.

Let Them Know That a First Offense Is Just a Mistake

A First Offense Is Just A Mistake
A First Offense Is Just A Mistake
The last thing that you need to do in order to settle things is to let your employee know that you think that this was just a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes, and now that you’ve had the official talk, you want to say off the record that you understand where they were coming from. This is the kind of thing that restores your employee’s confidence in himself and in your relationship. If this is a repeat offense you can’t really do this step, but if this is the first mistake it’s an easy way to patch things up with you.