Monday, February 4, 2008

Discipline in the workplace

Discipline in the workplace. It sounds almost like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? After all, discipline is something used with children, right? And hopefully, you've got all adults working for you. So the notion of conducting a discipline session makes everyone feel uncomfortable - as though you are somehow overstepping your bounds.

That discomfort you’re feeling can make you go easy on someone (“Oh, it more than likely won’t crop up again so I’m not going to do anything about it”) or go too far (“A buyer complained that she was on hold too long so I’m writing you up!”)

Neither option can be ideal for you, your association or your employee. You do need to discipline an employee whose actions have crossed the line . . . however you need to accomplish it properly.
First things first: recognize what discipline actually means. It is a follow-up to coaching. You do it because you have already given corrective feedback and suggested ways to correct the problem -and the employee in question has failed to heed your advice. Discipline is a way of declaring, “That correction needs to occur. If it doesn’t, there will be consequences.” It will sound basic, yet the truth is it's easy to make mistakes in this arena which a) result in an ineffective session, after which nothing changes, b) strain your relationship with your employee, c) anger or upset him or her to the point of much worse performance (this, in turn, will lessen morale), and/or d) lead to legal action against you or your firm.

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