Coord 325: Writing a Letter of Counseling

Introduction

As a Coordinator, you  may have to dealing with many issues. Not all of them are severe enough to actually have to instigate a Disciplinary Action.  When this occurs a Letter of Counseling is often the appropriate method to deal with the issue.

What is a letter of Counseling?

A Letter of Counseling is defined in the handbook as “Unrecorded, typically for minor infractions and mistakes. The letter should include counseling from a more experienced officer to ensure the mistake is not repeated.” (pg57)  They are ways to help educate members on proper conduct while at events.

Why use them?

The simple answer to why we use them is to help the overall club.  Sometimes people do boneheaded things.  They do not do it out of spite or malice.  It is usually done out of ignorance.  They did not know of a rule in place or it is something they are used to doing at home.  They simply are unaware on how things should be run.

When you write a Letter of Counseling it is to help the player improve.  As an officer, you can assist in this process by mentoring the player.  Sometimes taking the time out and educating the player of the rules and why they are in place can help a player understand.  This allows the player to be mindful of their actions and how their actions can or would affect players around them. Mentoring can be done in several ways.  You could sit one on one with the player going over the rule book.  You could have a domain meeting with all players so the player does not feel singled out.  If you are the industrious type, a powerpoint presentation might be put together about the issue.  There are several things you could do to mentor, and make it fit the situation.

When is it appropriate?

There are things to look at when dealing with any issue.  There may be mitigating factors that will lessen an offense. A Letter of Counseling is appropriate when circumstances merit, usually when it is the first time an offense happens.

According to the Membership Handbook, Letters of Counseling may not be appealed, but entities that abuse their discretion in issuing Letters of Counseling can be subject to investigation in accordance with standard investigation procedure.

Who should write them?

The person writing the letter will be the lowest officer overseeing the situation.  Thus a regional situation would go to the regional coordinator while a domain game would have a domain officer initiate the Letter of Counseling. The exception to this rule is if the lowest ranking officer overseeing the situation has a conflict of interest, in which case it’s dealt with by the second lowest ranking officer.

How should it be written?

When writing the letter, there is no set way of writing.  There are a couple of guidelines however to keep in mind.  The main one is to stay true to the facts of the case.  You will want to avoid any opinions or rumors in a letter.  This will just muddy the facts and cause bigger issues.

Make sure you write it in a way as to educate the member.  The last thing you want to do is to talk down to the member or make it so they do not want to return.

Some major sections that can be included are:

  1. Addressing the member
  2. Stating that this is an official letter of counseling
  3. Stating the situation
  4. Offer methods to address the behavior or situation
  5. Signature

Example Letter

Dear Matthew MES-Player,

The reason you are receiving this letter is to advise you of a potential breach of the code of conduct that was deemed deserving of a Letter of Counseling.  We would like to make sure this behavior is not continued.  The situation and solutions are outlined below.

On August 21, 2014, it was observed that you did not follow directions when directed to do something by an MES officer.  Concerns were raised by members that you were also becoming very argumentative about the topic. This caused the players to feel uncomfortable.

The coordinators did not think this warranted a disciplinary investigation at this time as this is your first offense.  We felt that this letter would help you.  While Larping, the players as a whole, want to feel secure and officers need things to run smoothly.  If you are told by an officer to do something, do it first and then discuss the situation. Keeping your tone to a minimum will help a discussion run more smoothly.  Decisions made by an officer can be officially appealed to their supervisor if you are unable to come to an agreement but they must first be obeyed until that appeal is complete.

Sincerely,

Kelly Coordinator

Mentoring:

When you write a Letter of Counseling the goal is to help the Player become better. As a coordinator, you can assist in this process by mentoring the player. Sometimes taking the time out and educating the player regarding the rules and why they are in place can help a player understand. This allows the player to be mindful of their actions and how their actions can or would affect players around them.

Mentoring can be done in several ways. You could sit one on one with the player going over the rule book. You could have a domain meeting with all players so the player does not feel singled out. If you are the industrious type, a powerpoint presentation might be put together about the issue. There are several things you could do to mentor, make it fit the situation. More information about mentoring players can be found in the Coord 262: Mentoring Players document.

What Happens Next?

After a letter has gone out to a member, who you are still mentoring, you witness that same player behaving poorly again. What action should you take? Depending on what they are doing this could warrant another Letter of Counseling or a Disciplinary Action.  There is no rule on how many Letters of Counseling a player can have.  For example, Matthew could breach another rule.  A Letter of Counseling would go out for that issue.  However, if Matthew continues to violate the same rule with multiple Letters of Counselling issued, then the next step would be passing the situation up to the Regional Coordinator who will decide if a DA investigation is necessary..

On the other hand, if the situation is dire enough or involved a major situation within the club, a Letter of Counseling is not a required first step.  A Disciplinary Action would be used immediately.  Examples of offenses and their appropriate levels are laid out in the Membership Handbook page 60. These can be used to gauge the seriousness of an offense.  Remember to be fair and consistent with all of your players.

Conclusion

Remember this, “The point of issuing a Letter of Counseling is to give a member a chance to correct behavior that does not warrant a disciplinary action.” (pg. 62 member handbook)  We want our members to succeed in the organization.  This is why we use a Letter of Counseling.