People do not behave well 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. That is just a simple fact of life. And those people can include your Security Staff. Unfortunately, when your Security is not on their best behavior, the problems they cause can end up having disastrous (and often costly) results. One of the things to consider when developing your security program is how to handle Disciplinary Action.
Usually, the phrase ‘to discipline’ carries a negative connotation. But, in actuality, discipline is a method of modeling a person’s character and teaching acceptable behavior and actions in order to allow for a particular code of conduct. When someone tells you, “Look both ways before you cross the street”, you are being disciplined in a certain behavior to elicit a certain response. However, if you don’t look both ways before crossing and are then chastised (which at your age you really shouldn’t be), the meaning of discipline takes on a negative connotation, usually based on the negative feelings you experience.
Discipline is necessary to allow for teaching of right and wrong. And in an environment like a nightclub, where right and wrong decisions can often lead to very negative consequences, discipline is KEY. Your Staff need to know when they are doing things wrong. And they need to know right away.
WHAT TO DISCIPLINE
Every bar and nightclub has different rules. Some allow dancing on the bar, others won’t let you in without shoes. Just as there are different rules for Patrons, there are just as many rules for Staff. Depending on your establishment’s rules, you may need to discipline your Staff for a range of actions (or inaction) that other bars wouldn’t consider problematic.
First, consider a standard of behavior or conduct. What do you want your Staff trained to do or not do? Should they greet Patrons with a “Good evening.” or are you happy with a “What’s up?” Do you care if your Staff shows up on time or do they get a little leeway in regards to clocking in? Should your Staff be trained to dress or act certain way and if so, what is it?
Second, consider the consequences of particular actions. If your policy is “hands off the Patrons” (hint: it should be), then a Staffer physically lifting a Patron off the ground and throwing them out the door would be cause for Disciplinary Action. Why? Well, the Patron could be injured during the ejection, which could lead to possible lawsuit, which could lead to monetary damages, which could lead to bar closure. Do the negative consequences outweigh the particular action? Yes. And as such, disciplinary action is necessary. You want to set a precedent for future actions and behavior.
Decide what type of behavior and rules you want in place and make your disciplinary decisions based on these rules.
HOW TO DISCIPLINE
I’m the first to say that no one on your Staff should be yelled at, under any circumstances, in front of other Staffers. It is demeaning and counterproductive, and often times can lead to more problems. It is possible to get across feelings of disappointment or anger without becoming a raving maniac. Behind closed doors I still don’t suggest yelling, but sometimes emotions can get the best of you.
First, it is imperative that you have some type of paperwork to back up and bolster to your claim. Leaving a trail of paperwork is always a good idea, especially when dealing with Disciplinary Action. It is possible that you may have to terminate an employee at some point and paperwork never hurts your cause…unless you don’t have it or falsify it.
A Disciplinary Action Form should contain the following:
Manager issuing Disciplinary Action
Nature of Infraction
You should also include whether or not the employee was issued a verbal warning and a written notice of suspension or termination for repeated infractions. And don’t forget to have the employee and manager sign and date the form!
Second, before you are going to confront someone with some type of Disciplinary Action, sit with it. Think about it. And go through what you want to say to the individual before the meeting. Make sure you have all of the facts straight. This might mean talking to others who were present when something went wrong.
Third, meet with the Staffer. Ask them if they have any questions or explanations as to their behavior or actions. Explain the problem with their behavior and let them know what the Disciplinary Action will be. It may be only a Verbal Warning or it could be a loss of a work shift. But you must let them know before they leave what the consequences of their actions will be.
Lastly, thank them for their time when you are done. Be firm and get your point across, but always be respectful! The Staffer may have slipped up slightly or just had a bad day. It happens to all of us so don’t jump down their throat!
When all is said and done, file the Disciplinary Action report and carry on. If you have a problem Staffer, you may need to hold further non-disciplinary meetings to discuss alternative courses of action. But usually one warning is enough for most employees. Make sure that you yourself are following the rules. No one likes a boss that talks out of both sides of their mouth and you are setting a bad precedent by breaking you own rules…have some discipline!
Until next time…