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Know the difference between insubordination, gross insubordination and insolence

by , 18 October 2016
Know the difference between insubordination, gross insubordination and insolenceThere's a fine line between insubordination, gross insubordination and insolence of an employee. Do you know the difference? How would you discipline an employee in each instance? If you get it wrong you could lose at the CCMA!

So let's look at these three offences...

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Know the difference between insubordination, gross insubordination and insolence

There's a fine line between insubordination, gross insubordination and insolence of an employee. Do you know the difference? How would you discipline an employee in each instance? If you get it wrong you could lose at the CCMA!

Don't end up on the losing side of the CCMA because you didn't know the difference!

We have the solution for you. Click here to know the difference between these and what you can do to discipline your employee in each case.

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Know the difference between insubordination, gross insubordination and insolence

 
While these three offences are very similar, you need to know the difference between them and how you can discipline the employee on each. If you don't you could face the CCMA for incorrectly laying charges against an employee.
 
Insubordination is when an employee fails to obey a direct and specific order. It's a lesser offence than gross insubordination.
 
Gross insubordination is an employee's deliberate defiance of your authority. He breaches a basic duty to be compliant and refuses to follow reasonable instructions. He intentionally challenges your authority and makes continued employment unbearable.
 
And an employee is insolent when he fails to show respect. 
 
Let's take a look at the differences in these and how to discipline appropriately.

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3 Actions you can take for each offence
These examples show you the difference between insubordination, insolence and gross insubordination and the action you can take. 
 
In the scenarios below Stanley is your driver, so your request is reasonable and lawful.  
You: Sue's car has broken down again, please use my car to fetch her. We need her to finish the books for month-end.
 
Here's a practical case of insubordination 
Stanley: I don't have time to go fetch her. I have my own work to do.
You: It's more urgent for you to fetch Sue so she can finish the books.
Stanley: I'll see if I have time later to fetch her.
 
He carries on with his work and forgets or fails to fetch Sue.
 
How to discipline Stanley:
He's being insubordinate because your request doesn't fall far outside his job description. Give him a written warning. That's enough to make sure he obeys future instructions. 
 
When is it gross insubordination?
Stanley: (shouting) I've already fetched her twice this month. I'm not a taxi service! If you want Sue fetched – do it yourself! I'm not your slave.
You: (shocked) Stanley – who do you think you're talking to?
Stanley: The idiot who thinks I have to do everything he says because he pays my pathetic salary. You're wrong and I won't fetch her. I've had enough of you pushing me around!
 
How to discipline Stanley:
He's acting completely insubordinate. He refuses to carry out your instruction, is aggressive and openly defying you. This is a more serious offence than insubordination. You'd be right to dismiss him, regardless of if anyone else saw it or not. It's appropriate because Stanley's conduct makes continued employment intolerable. 
 
An example of insolence…
Stanley: Oh no, not again. I've my own work to do. I told Sue she needs a new battery.
You: I'm sorry Stanley, but I don't know how else to get her here.
Stanley: Yes, well Sue really isn't my problem. Can't you go pick her up?
You: Stanley, what are you saying? You know I can't leave the business; I have a meeting in five minutes!
Stanley: Yeah, everyone's work is more important than mine. No one cares about my work getting behind (mumbles as he picks up car keys and walks off) It's 'Stanley do this, Stanley do that', all day…
 
How to discipline Stanley:
He's initially unwilling, rude and insolent to you. He shows hesitancy to carry out the job, disrespect and reluctance to obey. But he carries out the instruction. Discipline him for insolent behaviour. Give him a written warning to remind him to follow your instructions without being rude or disrespectful.
 
Always be consistent when managing employees. No matter how you personally feel about an employee, you must end insubordination immediately. If you don't, you could land up with even bigger problems.
 
Until next time,

Taryn
 
P.S Turn to I01: Insubordination of your Labour Law for Managers Handbook for more on insubordination. Still not a subscriber? Click here now.
 


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Comments
4 comments


Ugesh Singh 2016-12-01 06:28:42

Hello friend.
Had a staff work for me 8 days...
Called me an asshole in a text message while chatting about a grievance with another staff member.
I told her not to come back to work cos I'm not an asshole...apart from undermining what I say to my staff
Did I do the correct thing?
Many thanks
Kind Regards

John Gaviro 2015-07-25 11:14:47

Hy I was charged with Gross insubordination yet I was late at work after I was there, on same day waiting for a truck which was under service,

hildah beukes 2015-07-23 22:07:42

Hi,I've been charged with Gross Insubordination/damage to company name. Where by its nt true.My case was started as Discrimination of employee @ work..N been threatened several times by management...What advice can u give me?

Sunday 2015-05-04 12:14:35

Is a proof needed to dismiss an employee when one has committed offences such as theft, fraud and dishonesty.

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