Editors can avoid most discipline problems by hiring carefully. But even then, problems sometimes arise. Some egregious offenses – including plagiarism, fabrication and lying – could result in immediate termination. But in most cases, editors must work with employees to improve their performance. Here are steps to take with problem employees:
- Upon the first transgression or inferior performance, call the employee in for a meeting. Explain the problem. Inquire about reasons. Help come up with solutions to fix it.
- If it or something similar persists, schedule a formal evaluation. Set an appointment, and ask the employee to come prepared to discuss their performance.
- Prepare a written evaluation for the editor-in-chief. Use the job description used in hiring to create a list of expectations and tasks. Evaluate the employee’s performance based on the list. Include specific examples, being honest and striving to document both positives and negatives.
- Meet with the employee at the set time in a private setting. Ask them to assess their own performance. Often, they will already know where they’re struggling.
- Make the evaluation a discussion, not a lecture. Work with the employee to craft a performance improvement plan. It should list what the employee must do and a time frame for completing it. For example, In the next two weeks, John will meet all deadlines or notify his editor in advance if a deadline cannot be met.
- Monitor the employee’s performance to plan. If they meet their goals, meet again and note their progress. If they fail to meet their goals, meet with the editor-in-chief to consider whether a modified improvement plan should be considered or termination is required.
- Remember, only the editor-in-chief can fire an employee, though the editor may choose to have the assigning editor deliver the news, which if at all possible should be done face to face. Be sure you get back any Daily equipment.