When someone wrongs you, how do you react? Are you angry, vindictive, ready to pounce? For most of us, the answer is “it depends.” We’ll take a breath and then decide the best course of action.

However, when it comes to employees, we often forget to breathe first. We jump to the nearest set of policies and then comb through them to see what level of discipline needs to be metered out. It amazes me as an HR person that when employees slip up, the reaction is usually swift, harsh and doesn’t take anything into consideration – really.

Our systems of progressive discipline and layers of breaking Rule 1.0.1, Subsection A litter our field with little regard of how these actions affect the person who broke said rule. We act as if they are the most disloyal, uncaring and detrimental person who EVER worked for the company!

Here’s a question for you . . . ever make a mistake or break a rule at work?

Did the appropriate action take place? Were you written up, counseled, suspended or fired? What if you were in this situation? How should the Company treat you?

It’s time for a different approach to HR. Please take note that this path is much more difficult, painful and intentional. However, it works!


Before launching into the employee handbook, remember that your decision and actions are actually affecting another person’s life. That may be their life at work, or their life in general. I don’t think that as HR professionals, we ever think about the person we’re addressing. Our system is more important because we feel we are acting justly and, in doing so, we’re protecting the company.

I’m not saying that discipline and termination aren’t warranted at work. However, I use a yard stick which says that these only occur based on an employee’s behavior and actions. Even with that benchmark, I still review each case and take into account all of the factors as well as the person who’s about to be disciplined. I want them to come out of any conversation understanding the situation, its context and how we move forward from there.

Now, so you don’t think I’m being Utopian or an idealist, understand that I practice this personally inside work and outside of work. It’s not a popular position because most people want a pound of flesh when they are wronged. I’ll hold out until the last moment that I can before making difficult decisions because I believe in people, even in the darkest situations.

You see, I make mistakes and I have disappointed others – even those closest to me. How can I expect grace from others if I am not willing to be graceful myself? Also, how will others show grace if it isn’t given to them?

I know this works. And, I have reassurance as well because I’ve seen the results. It’s like U2 says in their phenomenal song – Grace from All That You Can’t Leave Behind - “Grace finds goodness in everything.”  Try it and see!




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