How do I Verbally Reprimand an Employee for Bad Behavior?

Written by pilar ethridge
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How do I Verbally Reprimand an Employee for Bad Behavior?
Maintain team efficiency by being an approachable, attentive manager. (glasses businesswoman 3 image by Brett Mulcahy from

As a supervisor or manager, part of your duty is to maintain a functional and effective team of employees. Although you might have mastered motivating your team, you might be challenged by a situation where an employee does not meet expectations. Instead of anticipating a negative encounter, approach the situation from a positive standpoint. It is, after all, an opportunity for improvement. Also, keep in mind that each employee is a unique person. Thus, there is no single method for correcting bad conduct.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Keep an eye on an employee for at least a week if you notice unproductive behaviour. By doing this, you will be able to tell the difference between one bad day or a newly-formed habit.

  2. 2

    Approach the employee in private, if possible, to maintain professionalism. If it is necessary to set up a meeting, schedule it early in the employee's work day so that steps toward improvement can take place immediately.

  3. 3

    Be clear about the specific behavioural violations that you have noticed and do not defer to gossip. Giving times or dates will help the employee recognise the specific action or attitude that needs correcting. During this discussion, maintain a tone that is factual and concerned, rather than accusatory.

  4. 4

    Ask the employee for feedback on how the behaviour can be improved. By doing this, you can begin to from a verbal agreement which can be referenced in the future. Depending on the situation, you might choose to document this in writing.

  5. 5

    Finish off the encounter with positive reinforcement, which will let the employee know that their position is valued. You might offer further guidance or gratitude where necessary.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep in mind that employee relations are about maintaining efficiency. Scolding and put-downs can amount to verbal employee abuse.

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