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By David Griffin

Case scenario

It’s an all-too-familiar situation for HR professionals: the high-performing, high-achieving senior executive or manager who leaves a trail of personnel casualties in their wake.



They set high expectations for themselves and their subordinates yet don’t have the time, inclination or capacity to deal effectively with those subordinates who do not fulfill their expectations. Sooner or later, the high performer’s angry outbursts and ill temper result in complaints, and the organization is faced with the challenge of resolving these complaints effectively.

Inevitably the challenge to remedy this problem lands on the desk of the HR professional, who is tasked with addressing the inappropriate behaviour, upholding the company’s respectful workplace policies and, at the same time, retaining this high performer. After all, the company has invested handsomely in this high achiever, and does not want to lose them, nor deter their strong performance.

Why one-to-one training?
One-to-one remedial training provides several distinct benefits over group training, such as:
1. Offers the ability to customize the training program to focus on the specific circumstances;
2. Addresses the concerns privately and discreetly, in a manner that is sensitive to the respondent executive, as well as the complainants and other employees;
3. By offering the training privately, the participant is more likely to participate and openly discuss the issues giving rise to the complaints;
4. Demonstrates the organization’s commitment to upholding the respectful workplace policy – as well as legislative requirements – by addressing the behaviour promptly and effectively;
5. Training will often form part of a settlement or award as a result of adjudication of the complaint, and satisfies the organization’s responsibilities to deliver such training; and,
6. In a progressive discipline regime, the organization establishes a training record to rely on in the event that the participant re-offends.


In addition to workplace bullying, remedial one-to-one training is effective in dealing with various behavioural concerns, including Code-based harassment, incivility and interpersonal conflict. The training provides an effective way of addressing inappropriate behaviour or assisting employees who may be encountering difficulty interacting with or managing others.

Personalized sensitivity training may also assist management-level staff to better understand and deal more skillfully with issues of workplace diversity and accommodation situations.

Training content
One-to-one remedial training provides the opportunity to customize and personalize the training session(s) to address the facts of the particular circumstances. Prior to finalizing the session contents, the HR professional should review the circumstances giving rise to the training and any relevant background information.

As behavioral change is often more difficult to sustain over the long term, periodic positive and supportive reinforcement and feedback is appropriate.


The objectives of the session are to assist the participant in understanding the behavioral concerns as well as corporate and legal expectations for workplace behaviour, and to support the participant in managing their behaviour going forward.

It is also beneficial to commence the training session with an open discussion about the prior circumstances in a respectful, non-judgmental and empathetic manner. This allows the participant to “vent” their feelings and perceptions, while the instructor establishes rapport and credibility with the participant.

The instruction can be reinforced using situational case studies, enabling the participant to apply the instruction in realistic workplace scenarios. When training managers, engage them in an exercise whereby they are required to develop a management response to a similar workplace scenario.

The session should conclude with a review of the key issues and learning outcomes and a discussion with the participant about personal strategies moving forward, including the development of a personal action plan. It is important to identify the risk factors and personal triggers that may be contributors to inappropriate conduct, and identify strategies to avoid inappropriate behaviour when confronted with similar factors in the future.


Training location

Generally, it is recommended that the training take place in a discreet, respectful and professional environment. It is important to identify a location that is off-site, away from the participant’s co-workers and subordinates.

Larger employers may have training facilities or meeting rooms available at a location that is separate from the participant’s workplace. Otherwise, an off-site facility, such as a hotel meeting room, is preferable. Community resources can also be utilized, such as the public library, municipality or community centres, which often offer meeting facilities at reasonable rates.

For remote locations or where circumstances warrant, instructor-led training in real time over the internet and/or telephone could potentially be organized.

Following the completion of the training session, the HR professional should document the training details as part of the complaint disposition, confirming the areas of instruction and assessment of the participant’s performance, along with any recommendations, if appropriate, for additional assistance, supports or follow-up. A copy of the training agenda should accompany this documentation.

As behavioral change is often more difficult to sustain over the long term, periodic positive and supportive reinforcement and feedback is appropriate.

It is strongly recommend that periodic enquiries be made after the training has been completed and the participant has resumed their regular duties. These enquiries should be made of the participant, complainant and participant’s manager, to ensure that the inappropriate behaviour that necessitated the training has in fact been addressed appropriately, in order to determine whether any further action is required.

Ultimately, the organization has a duty to ensure that inappropriate behaviour is remedied and does not continue. It is not sufficient to deliver the training and then close the file. It is important to ensure that the investment of time and resources in remedying the behaviour achieves the desired results; otherwise, the organization remains liable for damages in the event the behaviour continues.


Customized one-to-one remedial training is an effective and respectful way of addressing inappropriate workplace behaviours, taking corrective action and minimizing disruption to your workforce. At the same time, it affords you an opportunity to retain experienced, long-term employees, in whom you have invested much effort and expense.


For more information about one-to-one remedial training, visit‎

David Griffin is Lead Investigator, Instructor and Mediator with HR Proactive Inc.

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