As a manager there are times when we must tell an employee they have done something wrong and it should never happen again. If the employee is a good worker and has a pretty good track record it will help when telling them, because you can sandwich good things that they have done around the news of this bad one.
There are times when a slap on the hand and let it go works, but there are times that we need to do a full on confrontation, let them know in detail what they have done and why it should never happen again.
The tightrope act begins, we need to present the case very carefully, slowly and clearly so as to not fall off the rope and cause a catastrophic event for the business by losing a good employee. As a manager we need to think through how we are going to present the case in a firm way, yet have a positive outcome.
We must make sure when we talk to the employee that we are; (1) clear about what the problem is. (2) be direct, addressing only the one issue and what problem was created by the offense. (3) be constructive, showing the employee how they can improve to ensure that the mistake does not happen again.
One definition states: Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.
When we, as managers, need to discipline and correct our goal should always be to improve the situation and leave the employee understanding what their offense was, but also that they understand how they can improve themselves and ensure they will do better from now on. They need to feel they are valued and the constructive criticism they received was an investment in making them a better employee.