How to Discipline a Manager
When a manager fails to meet deadlines, complete projects or obey orders, you may need to discipline her. If the manager is otherwise a competent employee and made an honest mistake, simply make a record of the problem and discuss it with the manager. However, if the error is part of a pattern, you may need to formally discipline her and supervise her performance to ensure the problem doesn't happen again.
Before discussing the offense with your manager or instituting disciplinary action, carefully document the precise nature of the offense. Talk to employees who witnessed the offense or who have complained about the manager and take written statements from them. Their statements can be anonymous to the manager, but you must maintain careful records, particularly if you ultimately must fire the manager. Ensure that the offense is correctly attributed to the manager, rather than to misinformation or financial problems within the company.
Talk to the manager before disciplining her for the offense. Give her an opportunity to explain her side or to take responsibility. Often, if a manager is prepared to take responsibility for the problem and recommend action to prevent it from occurring again, disciplinary action may be unnecessary. If, however, the manager seems unconcerned or unwilling to take responsibility, you need to institute disciplinary action.
The disciplinary action you choose should be based upon the severity of the infraction and scaled to the manager's overall competence and personality. A competent manager who makes an error may benefit from a continuing education class, while an incompetent manager might need to be demoted or put on a performance improvement plan. Inform the manager of the disciplinary action, how long the disciplinary action will last and what steps are necessary for her to take to demonstrate improvement.
Follow up with the manager when the disciplinary action has been instituted or has been completed. You may need to institute additional regular performance evaluations. If the manager is still not meeting goals, you may need to fire her or demote her. If, however, the manager has improved upon the problem, you can typically end or reverse disciplinary actions.