Talking Tips for Supervisors

When facing a disciplinary situation, give the employee time to tell his or her side of the story.
“I know the perspective of the person who brought this to my attention, but I’d like to give you an opportunity to share yours. What happened from your perspective?”
Be respectful. Listen and have empathy for the employee’s situation.
“I know that this is a new policy and as someone who uses tobacco, it must be difficult for you. I’m here to help you with this transition.”
Be direct. Make a clear statement that this is an important policy to the University, and it is an expectation that everyone adheres to this policy.
“Even though this is a new policy, we’ve always had policies about not using tobacco products in certain areas. I need you to understand that violations to University policy are serious, and I need your cooperation."
Refocus the employee back to the issue (violating tobacco-free policy) and ask them to come up with actions steps that will resolve the problem.
“Now that we’ve discussed the importance of complying with the tobacco-free policy, how will you manage to follow these guidelines in the future? Let’s talk specifically about what you will do the next time you feel the need to smoke or use tobacco during working hours. How will you manage the situation?”
Double-check that you understand (summarize what employee said).
“So, what you’ve just said to me is [rephrase what you heard]. Another suggestion might be to [suggest possible alternatives].”
Offer assistance/support. Make sure they are aware of resources available to employees and how to access this assistance. There are resources available that not only help those wishing to quit tobacco but will also assist employees not ready to quit but interested in adhering to the policy.
“I’d like to share some of the resources that are available to employees. There are resources available at This has resources even for people who aren’t ready to quit.”
Set up a future meeting to discuss progress.

“Let's meet again in two weeks to discuss how you are doing. It's important to me that you succeed in this plan, so please let me know anytime between now and when we meet if you are having difficulties.”

Note: Blatant and chronic violations are subject to referrals for personnel action through human resources.