Effective Discipline

March 4, 2009 -- Sal Silvester

The 50 Best Small and Medium Places to Work were announced by HR Magazine in July. Open communication, teamwork, employee training, and cultures which breed the idea of exceeding expectations, are among the characteristics of these top companies.

Yet many organizations, and managers, don’t recognize that a key part of the elements that build a winning team and a great place to work is discipline.

What? Discipline the Non-Performers?

A health care consulting company in the Midwest has policies in its handbook related to both positive and progressive discipline. The trouble is that very few of the managers have any real awareness of what they are supposed to do under either of these scenarios.

Typically, when an issue with an employee gets to the really messy stage, HR steps in. By this time, both the employee and the manager are frustrated, and it is often too late to turn the situation around.

Let’s face it, a manager would rather avoid the issue of discipline and hope that the problem goes away on its own. This is especially true if there are friendships involved.

The simple truth is that most employees need to be talked to and listened to.
It is a fundamental and critical management skill. Employees need to get on the same page so that they feel a part of the team. At times, it is more difficult for some that others.

Managers who meet a team member’s basic needs – understanding work expectations, getting recognition, and receiving feedback – develop more successful business units and ultimately have a positive impact on the success of the entire organization.

Six things Leaders need to know

1. Use the techniques of effective discipline to eliminate problem behavior.
2. Communicate concerns in terms of behavior rather than perception or opinion.
3. Minimize defensiveness and focus on solutions.
4. Reduce conflict avoidance behaviors that undermine team morale, impart perceived fairness, and impede overall productivity.
5. Review performance to make sure the problem is resolved.
6. Recognize the importance of team member participation in defining the problems and solutions.

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