There is a six-gun model I have used when having a conversation with someone who is walking the cactus ridden path that is a formal performance management process.  Before the anti-gun lobby gets all excited, no real guns were used in the making of this story.  It only involves an imaginary gun with imaginary bullets, that are used as an imaginary scenario, upon which wayward employees can comprehend their not so imaginary situation.

The script is something like this.  Employee number 27 ( No, we don’t treat our employees as numbers, but saying Mr George Gunningham, who was late again today, is probably a bit of a privacy breach).  Anyways,  MrG, has made it a good way through your company disciplinary process and is now sitting in your office on strike one, or strike two.  Your HR process will no doubt have all the paperwork and procedures to make sure you handle the process in a fair and compassionate manner.  If it doesn’t, then I suggest either get it in order pronto, or consider booking a motel near the employment court, so you have somewhere to stay while you’re defending your inappropriate treatment of a valued employee.

Somewhere in the middle of your discussion there will be an opportunity to just slip this little analogy.

Mr G, Imagine we are sitting here with a revolver playing a game similar to Russian Roulette.  Just like in the movies.  Imagine that each time you break a rule, a procedure or a policy, that you just pop another round in the chamber and we spin it to see whether you keep your job or not.  Brings a whole new intensity to the “your fired” type statement popular on reality TV.  If we keep going down this track at some stage all of the chambers will be filled, and that will be that.

Now, before you get too down about this, the other thing that can happen, is if you do good stuff, or the bad stuff stops, then we start to take them out again.  How quickly you fill or empty your imaginary revolver is totally up to you, MrG. My job as your Manager from now on, really, is just to make sure we get all of the facts straight before you add or subtract.  Which way this goes is completely in your hands.

My personal goal is we get to the point we have locked an empty imaginary revolver, back in the imaginary gunsafe, and we never speak of this again.  I am fairly sure you would like that as well.

So, let’s get back to sorting out that action plan. 

It goes without saying that you will have to use a bit of judgement, as to how appropriate this may be, in your own situation.  There are some times and people that this would be a big no-no.  Think super sensitive types or homicidal prepper for example.

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