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Truckstop Training: Four Steps of the Disciplinary Process

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Human Resources

Welcome to the newest post in our blog series, Truckstop and Travel Plaza Training. Training is an essential element in the success of any operation. Truckstops and travel plaza that train their staff well are able to improve their sales, profits, customer service, effectiveness and safety. As a result, their company’s overall operations also improve.

NATSO also offers a Truckstop and Travel Plaza Training Manual. The manual is designed to help operators create their own store- and company-specific operations training manual. NATSO members can purchase the manual for $175 and nonmembers can purchase it for $675 here.

Truckstop Training: Four Steps the Disciplinary Process

As a follow-up to last month’s post on corrective actions, let’s explore the disciplinary process in general.

It is understood that every organization, whether large or small, has specific procedures and guidelines for their disciplinary process. Here are my general rules that can apply to any organization. They should be especially helpful to those organizations just starting to develop a performance management program and documentation of operational processes and procedures. Remember, the NATSO Foundation’s Truckstop and Travel Plaza Training Manual is available to help you get started with your operational process and procedures.

But, I digress…

Organization’s disciplinary processes often have flexibility built-in, allowing management to deal with performance issues, as they deem necessary. While I am not a human resources expert, I would caution you to limit the amount of flexibility you give. The safe rule of thumb is the disciplinary action should match the severity of the behavior/event/issue. Leadership should create and communicate to management and staff their detailed guidelines for what the specific results are if an undesired action is taken. If everyone knows the rules, the clearer the results of the undesired action are. Remember when creating your guidelines:

  1. All team members must be held to the same standards; and
  2. As referenced above, the crime (undesired action) must fit the punishment (disciplinary action).

In the past, I’ve used a four-step disciplinary process that begins with written verbal warnings and culminates in termination. In other words, any team member written up three times for the same infraction is terminated. Remember, the goal of writing someone up is to correct the behavior, rather than to eventually terminate them. THERE ARE NO FIRM STEPS IN THE CORRECTIVE ACTION PROCESS AS WELL AS ANY PARTICULAR ORDER ON HOW YOU SHOULD PROCEED.

Here are the four steps the disciplinary process.

  1. Verbal and Documented Warning: A verbal warning is the disciplinary action for the first infraction. In most cases, written documentation is also made of the discussion of the issue. It is imperative to let the team member know that failure to improve and correct their actions will lead to further corrective actions up to and including termination. For example, “Darren, I am letting you know that spitting your gum on the sales floor will not be tolerated. I am documenting the day, time and this discussion and placing it in your file. Please know repeated undesirable behavior such as this will lead to the termination of your employment.” 
  2. Written Warning: The second step of the disciplinary action for a repeated problem is a written warning. The written warning should include a detailed development plan for improvement and written identification of the consequences.
  3. nd Written Warning or Final Warning: The third step of the disciplinary action for a repeated problem or a VERY serious issue is a final warning. The written warning should include a development plan for improvement and written identification of consequences that are VERY CLEAR, WITH A TIGHT TIMEFRAME AND VERY SPECIFIC. It should be clear that any deviation from the corrective action would lead to termination.
  4. Termination: Termination is the final consequence in the corrective action process. It is important to know that every termination should not be taken lightly. While many terminations are a result of team member failure to execute direction, policies and/or procedures, some terminations are because of leadership failure. Reflect on these terminations.

Join the conversation! Do you follow these four disciplinary steps? Do you agree that terminations are soemtimes because of leadership failure?  



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About the Author

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte

Darren Schulte serves as Vice President of Membership at NATSO. In this role, he directs recruitment, retention and customer service for truckstop and travel plaza members. He is also responsible for developing NATSO products and programs, particularly those relating to education, research and training for truckstop and travel plaza operators.

Schulte also leads NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program. A Profitable Retail Review is a custom assessment of your truckstop, including recommendations for every aspect of your facility, from actionable ideas to improve revenue to tactical ways to improve your net operating costs. Learn about NATSO's Profitable Retail Review program here.

Schulte joined NATSO with nearly three decades of experience in truckstop and travel plaza operations and merchandising. Schulte has worked for: 

  • Love's Travel Stops and Country Stores,
  • HESS Corporation, 
  • Petro Stopping Centers, and
  • TSC Global/Barjan LLC.