First, you need to appreciate that discipline involves handling the behaviour of apparently ‘problem people’.
‘Problem people’ key facts:
• The behaviour is the problem, not the person
• Seeing people as a problem can be dangerous and destructive, in relationships and in managing people
• It is vital to separate out the person from the problem.
A problem person is someone whose behaviour does not meet the normal standard we expect. It follows, therefore, that we will need to be clear what the standard expected is. We will look at this shortly.
Dictionary definitions of discipline mention:
• Maintaining order
• Mental training
• A system of rules
• Controlling behaviour
Is Discipline Punishment?
The view of discipline as punishment may originate from childhood associations, and the view that discipline is all about a ‘wrong’ to be ‘corrected’.
A balance needs to be struck between viewing discipline as punishment or improvement.
The Improvement/Punishment Balance:
To punish is to:
• Cause the offender to suffer
• Inflict a penalty
• Give a penalty for wrongdoing
To improve is to:
• Make better
• Use for good purpose
• Become better
• Be more prosperous
The key aim of discipline at work is to encourage unsatisfactory employees to improve. (The word discipline derives from the Latin Verb discere. This means to teach or mould.) Keeping the focus on improvement, means having a view that discipline is about trying to gain, and not using blame.
When Is Punishment Valid?
You should use punishment as a final sanction only, when everything else has failed. Remember, the prime objectives have to relate to gaining improvement.
• Conforming to a system of rules for conduct
• Ways and norms and expectations of behaviour
• Sometimes hidden in peoples/companies’ beliefs and values
• Usually accepted as necessary by the majority
• Sometimes imposed by mandatory legislation
• Visible when relationships between a company and an employee are unsatisfactory to the company
• One of the measures that helps employees keep to the standards expected
• A way to help employees improve
• A way companies can deal fairly with those who do not keep to the standards.
The prime objectives for disciplining need to be concerned with:
• Improving, correcting, preventing, re-aligning
• Bringing about conformity to standards
• Encouraging improvement, and higher levels of performance.
In Summary: Misconduct Offences
Offences can always be categorised as either performance issues or relationship/behaviour issues.
Work performance issues are about:
• Poor attendance and absence
• Poor careless work output
• Failure to follow rules, such as health and safety
Work relationship issues are about:
• Refusal to obey reasonable instructions
• Disruptive behaviour
Misconduct offences normally lead to disciplinary action, whereas the following gross misconduct offences normally lead to dismissal.
Gross Misconduct Offences:
Again, these offences can be categorised as either performance or relationship issues.
Work performance issues are:
• Gross negligence causing loss, damage
• Serious disregard of health and safety legislation
• Deliberate damage to company property
Work relationship issues are:
• Theft, fraud
• Assault, fighting
• Conduct prejudicial to the company’s reputation
• Serious incapability due to alcohol, illegal drugs
• Gross insubordination