Progressive Discipline

Posted in Human Resources Terms, Total Reads: 1966

Definition: Progressive Discipline

Progressive Discipline is a process in which an employee, whose performance and behaviour does not meet the expected and communicated standards, is assisted in understanding the problem and for finding opportunities to improve performance.


From the definition, it is clear that the core goal is to improve employee performance. Progressive Discipline is a formal process in which feedback is provided to the employee so that the problem can be understood and corrected.

The word ‘progressive’ points out to the fact that the process is not a punishment for the employee, but an assistance to overcome his/her problems. If the employee is not able to overcome his/her problems through this process, the process acts as a method to fairly terminate the employment of the employee.

Some steps in the process –

a) Counselling: Help the employee understand the problem areas and determine which behaviour of his/her is the source of this problem. Also, counselling helps the employer and employee understand the external factors that are the reason of poor performance.

b) Verbal reprimand

c) Written warning

d) A deadline to improve performance: An example of this is the 6 month notice period given to poor performers after end-year performance appraisal.

e) Suspend the employee for poor performance

f) Demotion

g) Terminate employment if the performance fails to improve

The severity of the steps depends upon the improvement in performance. It is a conscious effort of managers to be considerate and less severe on employees who show willingness to perform better. This process also helps the employees have a say in their performance and justify their poor performance so that managers would know which steps are to be taken.


Hence, this concludes the definition of Progressive Discipline along with its overview.

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