This interview was completed with Juan Carlos Arroyo, a manger at Rubio’s.
- What is the hardest part of disciplinary meetings for you?
The hardest part of disciplinary meetings for me is trying to figure out how to communicate the discipline effectively. I worry about saying things wrong or not getting my point across. I practice what I’m going to several times until I feel confident in the message I am delivering.
2. Do you find it more difficult to conduct a disciplinary meeting or to fire someone? Why?
I think that it is more difficult to discipline someone. When someone is being fired they usually know that it is coming, either through budget cuts or employee performance.
3. Do you feel that people respond better to emotional or logical appeal when implementing discipline?
In my personal experience I think that people respond better to logical appeal. When emotions are involved in discipline meetings they become much more difficult. Sticking with a logical appeal keeps the meeting more professional.
4. How do you navigate a meeting when it becomes emotionally volatile?
I listen to what the person has to say. Sometimes feeling like a manager is actually listening makes a big difference. If the employee is getting out of control I offer to take a break for a few moments so that they can gather their thoughts and communicate better. Sometimes people just need a little time to get their thoughts together. If the employee becomes aggressive or hostile we could call 911 if necessary, although this has never happened.
5. What time do you find it best to hold these meetings? Do you pull people during their shift or ask them to come in at a different time?
I like to tell people before they have a few days off from work. I’ll ask them to stay late for their shift if possible. That way they have some time to process what has happened and handle it emotionally.
6. How do you deal with an employee who is adamant they have done nothing wrong?
I would explain the evidence that I have to the employee. If they were not willing to listen I could get in contact with human resources. It also helps to have another manager or assistant manager present for these types of meetings
7. What do you do when an employee threatens to get a lawyer for being wrongfully terminated?
I make sure that all of my paperwork is completed correctly. I get in contact with our human resources and ask for advice.
8. Do you always have to have documentation backing up reason for discipline?
We almost always have documentation for discipline. Usually discipline is in relation to tardies or customer service complaints. Both of these items are logged so it is easy to provide documentation.
9. How many strikes does an employee get before termination? Why no more than this?
We allow an employee to have three disciplinary meetings before they are terminated. If an employee has not changed their behavior by this point it is unlikely that they will change in the future.
10. What factors contribute to your decisions on how to discipline?
I consider who I am disciplining and why. I also take into consideration how my relationship is with that person and how they will take the discipline.
11. What type of language do you use to encourage change?
I like to let employees know that they have “room to improve.” I watch my tone of voice carefully. I try to keep the meeting logical and to avoid emotions.
12. What determines whether you fire the employee or whether you give them another chance?
It depends on how severe the reason for discipline is. If someone is taking money they will automatically be fired. Smaller things like tardies and customer service complaints will be handled with discipline meetings.
13. What is the most common offense you see that leads to termination or discipline?
Most of our employees are terminated for tardies or just not showing up to work. Many of our employees are high school or college students and for many this is their first job.
14. How many people are involved when you need to discipline or fire an employee?
It depends on which employee I will be dealing with. If I am worried about the meeting I can get another manager or assistant manager to stay in the meeting. I could also ask an HR representative to be present if I think it will be exceptionally messy.
I learned many things from doing this interview. If I am ever a part of these interviews in the future I will strongly consider having another person from management present. I also think that it will be very important to have all necessary paperwork completed and filed appropriately. Human resources will be a huge resource for me in these situations.