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Good Leadership Skills
Gregory Covey with Leadership Skills for Life
Gregory Covey with Leadership Skills for Life


Should an employee that received a smaller paycheck than what they expected be able to use the excuse that they can't make it to work because they can't afford gas for their car.

Before you start laughing this is a true story.

What do you think?

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Marines Must Follow Orders!

As many of you know I served in the Marine Corps and it was one of the best experiences of my life. While serving I heard a story that made a huge difference in how I approach everything, even today. Now to be quite honest I am not sure that the story is true but it still makes a very important point. That point is that when you take short cuts it may, and most likely will, always come back to haunt you.

The story is of a Marine Corps General that heard his officers were not packing a full pack when they went on long marches. He was told that they were taking empty cardboard boxes and placing them into their packs to look full. To give you an idea the pack should include all your combat gear, which included an extra pair of boots and socks. When in the "Bush" taking care of your feet is a extremely important part of staying combat ready.

The General called for a long march through the back woods that included some of the most rough grounds he could find. It was to be accomplished in one day where they would go out approximately twelve and one half miles and then turn around and come back taking the same route.

The day of the march came and the Marine Corps Company came together and began their march. They kept a very fast pace since they knew they had just one day to make the entire 25 mile miles (12 1/2 up and 12 1/2 back).

The route was very rough. It was up covered in sharp rocks, sticker bushes, and cactus. Most of the march included pushing through and over almost impossible ground. It took very determined Marines reach down and make their goal. I have been on these types of marches and they challenge you in every way possible.

The Marines made it to the half way point where they were to turn around and come back through the same miserable route they had just came through. When they arrived at the half way point they were greeted with vehicles along with the General. The General gave them a motivating speech and then instructed them to remove their boots and socks and place them into the backs of the big trucks. Then they were to get their extra pair of boots and socks and put them on.

The General found out really quickly which officers had failed to pack their gear in accordance with regulation. The Marines that were under the leadership of these officers also found out what type of leader they were.

The General then instructed all the Marines to begin their march back to include those officers that had bare feet. Needless to say those officers ended their careers with the Marine Corps.

Read many leadership stories on my website,

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The reason I stated my website almost ten years ago was so that I could help others in leadership with those same issues that I struggled with and had to learn through the "School of Hard Knocks."

Although it took a lot of time to produce I have decided to offer my "Employee Manual Template" for free at least for a short time.

You can download the Template and other valuable information by visiting my website at

Please enjoy the free gift and if you have comments on the whether it is helpful or not please comment or Google Plus me.


Growing up my Dad always said there are three types of employees. After entering the workforce over forty years ago he was so right!

The first type of employee is that person that you can suggest that something needs to be done and within a very short amount of time, if not immediately, the task gets accomplished.

The second type of employee is that person that you suggest that something needs to be accomplished within a certain amount of time and they get it done within that time frame.

The third type of employee is that person you must tell them to drop whatever they are currently doing and go do the task right now.

Is There a Difference Between Performance and Behavior?

If you have been a supervisor for more than a few days you have been faced with an employee(s) that are not performing to the standard you or your company established. So is it a problem with performance or behavior?

The simple question to ask is;

Can't or Won't!

If the employee "Can't" do what is asked either because they don't have the mental, physical, or has not been trained to do so then it is Performance.

Examples of potential performance related issues:

1. An employee is assigned to produce a report using a new program that requires special training. The employee has not received the special training and fails to produce the report on time.

2. An employee who has been with the company for twenty five years begins to miss deadlines, forgets to include important data, etc. When questioning them they tell you that they forgot all about that requirement.

If the employee "Won't" do what is asked because they have chosen not to then it is Behavior.

Examples of potential behavior related issues:

1. An employee is assigned to produce a report using a new program that requires special training. The supervisor assigned the employee to attend the training and on the day that the special training class is scheduled the employee did not attend.

2. An employee who has been with the company for twenty five years begins to miss deadlines, forgets to include important data, etc. When questioning them they tell you that in the past we used to do it this way.

Forced resignations

Forced resignations are generally considered to be an ‘off the record’ form of punishment. They circumvent the entire disciplinary process and its documentation. Rather a single superior (Who may be the line manager, immediate supervisor or in the case of larger organizations; a member of an HR team) calls the employee to his office and has a one to one meeting with him. The employee is verbally told the charges against him and the management’s decision to relieve him of service. In this way he is offered an easy way out to avoid public opprobrium by offering his resignation within a stipulated time period. Failure to comply would mean the launch of disciplinary action proceedings that would culminate in his outright dismissal and mar his employment record permanently. This is considered an ‘easy way out’ for both the employee as well as the management.

However, it is necessary to inform the employee in detail as to why he is being forced to resign. i.e., there is uncontroversial proof of the reasons due to which the management has decided to relieve him of his service. If he is not convinced he may challenge the decision, both at the organizational level and later on, in a court of law. This is why care must be taken to ensure that no emails or otherwise incriminating evidence have been sent to the offending employee, or he might claim that he was coerced (or intimidated) to resign under duress. Under the circumstances the courts may well be sympathetic to him and order his reinstatement.

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Freezing seniority

This generally occurs in government organization or very large private ones. An employee may be due to be promoted by virtue of their seniority in an organization where promotions occur automatically once a certain period of time has been served at a specific position. However lack of performance may cause management to freeze their seniority at their current level indefinitely or at least till they have been able to improve their performance to the minimum acceptable standard.


ASP (Assistant Superintendent of Police) Peter Smith has been in service for the past ten years and should by rights, have been promoted to full SP (Superintendent of Police) at least three years ago, but his seniority has been blocked due to the fact that he had miserably failed to control muggings and violent crimes in the areas falling under his jurisdiction.

Blocking of promotion

If an employee is due for promotion, he may have his promotion blocked due to his lack of performance or behavior issues. Such a block on promotion may continue indefinitely as per the discretion of the management.


Mr. James is an assistant marketing manager at ABC pharmaceutical company and was due to be promoted to marketing manager after his next appraisal, but after he was involved in a physical fight with another staff member, his promotion was blocked for the duration of that year.

Punishments/Penalties of the Progressive discipline Process

If a low performing employee after due process including many or all of the above components refuses to maintain minimum standards or alter his objectionable behavior, then he may be penalized with the following punishments:

Suspension without pay

Suspensions without pay are generally awarded for behavioral issues rather than performance related issues. The period of suspension may vary from a single day to months, depending on the severity of the offence. In some cases an employee may be suspended (such as sexual abuse/assault cases or theft cases) pending the outcome of the DA proceedings. If he were to be exonerated, he could be re-instated with back benefits.

Do's and Don'ts of Written Warning Letters!

• State the problem due to which the warning has been submitted
• Refer to previous discussion (the single or multiple oral warnings that have already been issued)
• While drafting the warning letter state the specific actions that are needed for rectification of the objectionable conduct or lack of performance
• Indicate in the first paragraph of the letter that it represents the commitment of formal disciplinary action procedures and the level of its warning ( i.e. if it’s a first or a last warning)
• The warning letter should explain to the employee without any ambiguity, the penalties that would be incurred due to continued under performance and/ or lack of improvement in behavioral problems. (These could also include dismissal from service)
• Signature and date lines that the employee would have to sign both on original and duplicate copies that would be part of his employment record.
• Try to be specific without meandering into useless discourses that are beyond the scope of the warning letter.
• Do state what policy the employee violated. Whenever possible make it a point to attach a copy of the policy that has allegedly been violated.
• In the warning letter make it a point to indicate precisely why the violation is harmful to the organization. (By providing this context, you would be able to clarify, why an otherwise seemingly innocuous violation may have grave consequences. A point that may not be obvious to everyone involved and would help the offender realize the gravity of his error)
• Provide clear worded and specific instructions on how the employee can improve with the help of concrete suggestions.
• Do issue reprimands consistently irrespective of the position of the violator. This will help ensure that all concerned are to be held to the same standard.
• Follow up on the warning letter in order to see what effect it has had on the employee’s behavior or performance.
• The warning letter should be devoid of personal remarks, accusations or medical opinions.

• “You are a worthless piece of garbage” (Negative personal remark)
• You stole the PC and..... (Without any evidence or trial this would be classified as an accusation)
• I think you are depressed and psychotic (Unsubstantiated medical opinion.)
• Don’t be vague, since ambiguity kills the purpose of the warning letter. After all the whole point of the warning letter is to make the employee understand specifically what it was that he did wrong, what he needs to do to improve his performance
• And exactly how he is going to do it
• Being specific is good but being over specific is not and may well appear to be nit picking to the extent that it might appear to be willful bias.

IF the Warning Letter is being issued for habitual late coming then it should mention that fact but it should not be so detailed as to appear out rightly unfair such as stating “ XYZ came late by 1 and a half minutes.” Using such details in a written document may allow the employee to contest it later since it will be scrutinized with the intention of investigating if the same standards were universally applied to all the other members of the workforce of the organization and everyone else was equally penalized for such seemingly minor infractions. If such were not the case, it would give the employee grounds for discrimination.

• Don’t issue written warnings or serious penalties such as demotion or dismissal without at least two witnesses being present in the room.
• "The Management of XYZ Company has decided to terminate the employment of Mr. ABC due to chronic underperformance and habitual late coming. The letter will be handed over to him at his workstation and at least two company representatives would bear witness to him receiving it and signing it in their presence. More ever those witnesses must be made aware beforehand that they might have to take a stand in a court of law against the terminated employee and must express their willingness to do so beforehand. This will help minimize any ambiguity and questions over what actually occurred.
Note: It may be advisable to have large and strongly built witnesses just in case the terminated employee reacts violently to his termination.
• Under no circumstances should any warning or penalty letter (such as suspension, demotion, termination etc.) or its duly acknowledged receipts be lost. It must always be remembered that a lost document is a document that has never existed in the eyes of the law.
• Don’t forget to put in an employee signature line. "It’s imperative that the organization made every attempt possible to get the employee to sign off his penalty/reprimand.” However, if he steadfastly refuses to sign it make sure that you note it down on the reprimand/punishment letter and get the signatures of the two aforementioned witnesses to the act of refusal.
Following these’ Dos and Don’ts’ of documentation guidelines while initiating or administering Disciplinary Action against offending employees would not be a complete shield against any subsequent lawsuits filed by the disgruntled employee. (Or ex employee as the case may be) However, it will help ensure that (should the need arise) employers will be well placed to defend their decisions in the court of law.
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