This is the eighth post in a series intended to help you draft or improve your student media staff’s publications manual. Posts in this series will run on Wednesdays throughout the summer. The posts’ titles will start with “Pub Manual 101″ and include the Pub Manual 101 logo.
You hope you never have to discipline an employee on your student media staff. You hope, but the reality is that you will.
Some students can be pretty flaky. They miss deadlines repeatedly, disappear for weeks or just generally act unprofessionally.
Because of this view, I helped the student media staff I advise develop a student discipline policy focused on educating before reprimanding.
The policy, which is based on the three strikes principle, gives students the opportunity to correct their actions and behaviors as soon as they become formally aware of them.
The policy starts out with this overview:
The purpose of Student Publications is for students to have a hands-on learning experience. Because of the nature of this purpose, there is a student discipline process based on the “three strikes” rule. Students will be given two opportunities to improve and learn from whatever behavior is deemed in appropriate. On the third violation, the student will be terminated. Exceptions to the “three strikes” rule would include any violation that threatens harm to another staffer or the overall publication.”
As you can see, the overview purposely is written to give the editorial board and/or adviser the authority to terminate a student without going through the three strikes, if necessary. This approach, however, only is used in extreme situations, such as those dealing with health, safety or welfare.
It then outlines the three strikes as such:
Student meets privately with the adviser to discuss the offense and learn from the mistake made. The supervising editor will be informed of the issue. The student will sign a “strike” form.
The purpose of this meeting is educational, which is why the adviser plays a primary role. Most students who receive a strike never get beyond the first one because they recognize and correct their negative actions once they are formally made aware of them.
Student meets privately with the adviser and a member of the editorial board to discuss why the offense continues or why the student has multiple offenses. Solutions are offered to avoid such problems in the future. The student will sign a “strike” form.
These meetings are uncomfortable for the student staffer and the editor, but they are an important step in helping the staffer recognize how their negative actions or behaviors are impacting the staff as a unit. They also help the editors involved become more professional managers by exposing them to difficult conversations they may need to have in the workplace.
Editorial board votes in a private meeting on whether to continue employing the student. The adviser informs the student of the board’s decision. Students terminated by a vote of the editorial board are unlikely to be hired again by Student Publications. The student will sign a “strike” form.
I can’t think of a single circumstance where an editorial board has decided to continue employing a student with three strikes. The ed board recognizes that their policy is fair and students who reach this point likely are holding back the staff as a unit. Also, students often realize the fit is poor before reaching this third meeting and resign.
Disciplining employees isn’t fun, but it is a necessary part of management. Hopefully you can use our three strike policy to make your disciplinary process a productive learning tool for all of those involved.
Let’s Talk Nerdy!
What does your staff disciplinary process look like? Please share your policies below so we can learn from each other.