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Defining Discipline

28 October, 2015 - 12:53

If an employee is not meeting the expectations, discipline might need to occur.Discipline is defined as the process that corrects undesirable behavior. The goal of a discipline process shouldn’t necessarily be to punish, but to help the employee meet performance expectations. Often supervisors choose not to apply discipline procedures because they have not documented past employee actions or did not want to take the time to handle the situation. When this occurs, the organization lacks consistency among managers, possibility resulting in motivational issues for other employees and loss of productivity.

To have an effective discipline process, rules and policies need to be in place and communicated so all employees know the expectations. Here are some guidelines on creation of rules and organizational policies:

  1. All rules or procedures should be in a written document.
  2. Rules should be related to safety and productivity of the organization.
  3. Rules should be written clearly, so no ambiguity occurs between different managers.
  4. Supervisors, managers, and human resources should communicate rules clearly in orientation, training, and via other methods.
  5. Rules should be revised periodically, as the organization’s needs change.
  6. Of course, there is a balance between too many “rules” and giving employees freedom to do their work. However, the point of written rules is to maintain consistency. Suppose, for example, you have a manager in operations and a manager in marketing. They both lead with a different style; the operations manager has a more rigid management style, while the marketing manager uses more of a laissez-faire approach. Suppose one employee in each of the areas is constantly late to work. The marketing manager may not do anything about it, while the operations manager may decide each tardy day merits a “write-up,” and after three write-ups, the employee is let go. See how lack of consistency might be a problem? If this employee is let go, he or she might be able to successfully file a lawsuit for wrongful termination, since another employee with the same performance issue was not let go. Wrongful termination means an employer has fired or laid off an employee for illegal reasons, such as violation of antidiscrimination laws or violation of oral and/or written employee agreements. To avoid such situations, a consistent approach to managing employee performance is a crucial part of the human resources job.