Things don’t always work in the order you want them to.

In an article a few months back, I spoke about my grandson, Madden, and how he was doing with his growing pains. By the time you read this, Madden will have turned 1 and most probably be not just walking but running, I’m sure!

Also, by the time you read this, Madden’s parents, my daughter and her fiancé Fred, will have been married. Madden came 1st, the wedding second. Sometimes you can do things out of order, yet achieve the result you desired from the beginning.

Case in point, in the CarWash College Management class, we cover a topic titled, “Progressive Discipline” which is broken down into 4 steps. They are:

Stage One: Verbal warning

Stage Two: Written warning

Stage Three: Suspension

Stage Four: Termination

As you can see, each successive stage calls for a more serious disciplinary measure. However, the progression is not always a chain of distinct steps. There will almost always be some overlap and variations in individual cases. In addition, there will be times when the process is not followed in succession.

It is recommended that you try to adhere to the steps as written and to document each step to protect yourself from being sued for unlawful termination, but there are times when you just can’t.

Scenario 1: You have given a verbal warning to an employee regarding his/her cell phone use on company time and warned them of further consequences. The policy is violated again soon thereafter and you issue a written warning. The same employee violates another company policy within the warning period and is then suspended. After returning from suspension the employee violates yet another policy and is terminated.

This is an example of following all steps through and documenting your actions in the event you need to defend them.

Scenario 2: An employee gets into a physical altercation with another employee or even a customer. You skip the 1st three steps and terminate the employee immediately

The Progressive Discipline policy allows you the freedom to move to whatever stage in the process best fits the infraction which, hopefully, brings you the desired result.

As a father, the desired result for my daughter has always been for her to be happy. Although she didn’t arrive there in the traditional order of wedding, then children, the end result is exactly what I’d always hoped for her.

Sometimes the quickest route between two points isn’t always a straight line.

Bob Fox
Instructor, CarWash College

Bob Fox has 30 years industry experience and is an instructor at CarWash College™. Bob can be reached at For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.