How to Demote an Insubordinate Employee

by Richard Bashara

Demoting an employee, especially one you hope will remain a part of your company after the fact, should be handled delicately. Insubordination means that the employee has disobeyed a superior’s request or has used disrespectful or abusive language. If you decide to demote the employee, you should prepare ample evidence on why you feel the demotion is necessary. You should also listen and react to the employee being demoted, as his side of the story could impact your decision. Handle the demotion professionally and work with senior management to ensure the employee understands the reason.

Draft a written document that outlines why the demotion is necessary. Document the employee’s shortcomings, instances of insubordination and any additional charges you may have, as well as instances where company policy has been violated. Use copies of previous written warnings, take statements from other members of management who have dealt with the employee, and supply physical evidence if possible.

Meet with members of management who work, or will work, with the employee being demoted. Explain your reasoning for the demotion and have someone come with you to document the minutes of the meeting.

Meet with your employee to discuss her demotion using calm and professional language. In certain cases, this might be more effective with other members of management present, but that depends on the employee. If the employee is giving you the silent treatment or openly disobeying you in front of others, get another member of management to accompany you. Do this privately, away from other employees, and give the demoted employee a copy of the document you drafted containing your reasons.

Provide an opportunity for your employee to give his side of the matter. Listen objectively and discuss the matter fairly. The aim of this discussion is to help ease the transition and let the employee communicate any frustrations he might have.

Have your employee sign documentation stating he understands that he has been demoted, and the reasons why. When the document is signed, you can help the employee get acquainted with his new workspace.

About the Author

Richard Bashara writes for various entertainment and technology publishers. He has been covering topics such as dating, Comic-Con and the technology trade since 2007. Bashara holds a B.A. in writing.

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