There are six reasons for a reprimand …
1) Values are disregarded. Your business or team might have a high value of being on time to meetings. If this is violated multiple times, it could easily be reason for a reprimand.
2) Rules have been broken. Your teenager knows his curfew, yet violates it regularly. It’s time for a reprimand.
3) Trust has been violated. At your team meeting last week, you explicitly stated that the information shared needed to stay within your team. A teammate violated that confidence and now needs to be reprimanded.
4) The organization or you have been sullied. Kids need to learn that a good name is better than riches. Teammates need to know they are playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back.
5) Character issues have developed. The Bible has a bazillion (it is a word – look it up at dictionary.com) verses that describe what character and integrity is, what the rewards are for Godly character, and what the reprimands will be for a lack of character. Every person needs to learn this essential value at any age.
6) General principle — Most of the time you don’t reprimand on a first offense. You want to extend grace and understand that things do happen. However, if the reasons are frequent or grievous, then action needs to be taken.
Six dos of a reprimand …
1) Be quick. There’s nothing gained by just berating someone for an extended period of time. It is what it is — make your point and move on.
2) Extend grace. We all mess up. Don’t act like you’re perfect. Allow your child, staff member or teammate to take away from your meeting the need to improve and that you are a person of grace.
3) Keep it private. You want loyalty from your team or family member, don’t you? Show them loyalty in this difficult moment and it will return 100 fold.
4) Write a follow-up. In reprimand situations, some people shut down and might not completely hear you. A quick follow-up e-mail or note can help clarify the issue and the expectations.
5) Be clear. Be clear on the issue, the expectations, next steps and what happens if things don’t change. As one of my friends says in tough employee reprimands, “You need to act like your job depends on it … because it does.”
6) Close in prayer. Not every situation will allow it publicly, but I would greatly encourage it. Both of you need God to help the situation get better. If it can’t be public, then do so privately at a minimum.
Two don’ts of a reprimand …
1) Don’t enjoy giving a reprimand. It should be difficult for the receiver and you as the giver.
2) Don’t use e-mail or voice mail. Always give a reprimand face-to-face. There are rare exceptions, such as extreme time issues that might require a form of communication other than face-to-face, but those exceptions should be in the 1:1000 frequency range.
Remember what Proverbs 27:6 (NIV) says: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” As a leader — parent, coach or supervisor — you need to be a friend first. That doesn’t always mean best friend, but it does mean someone who cares for and loves the person they are leading. Reprimands are much more effective when they come from a place of care and friendship.
OK, those are my ideas. I know that these aren’t exhaustive lists. What would you add?
Live well. Lead well.
Eric Rojas loves his role as the executive pastor of Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL, where he oversees a staff of 120 and serves alongside Senior Pastor Jim Nicodem. He has been on staff at CCC since 2000.
During his 20+ years of ministry, Rojas has served in churches as a youth pastor, adult ministries pastor, small groups pastor, associate pastor, worship pastor and men’s pastor.
He is a contributing author for Group Publishing’s Men’s Ministry in the 21st Century and has written for various magazines and websites.
Rojas also serves the church-at-large through consulting and seminar presenting.
He has been married to his wife, Rachel, for 22 years. They have 3 children — Luke, 21; Adam, 19; and Chloe, 17.
A man of faith, Rojas believes that next year is the year the Cubs will finally win the World Series.