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Home » Management

Discipline, The Fourth And Most Neglected Spoke In The “Wheel Of Management”

Management Discipline

Does Your Business Focus on Management Discipline?

For the fourth article in the series entitled “The Wheel of Management” I have picked discipline as the subject. Many managers will be surprised that I have elevated what most see as a simple HR function to a major management discipline, but I see the imposition of a well structured disciplinary process as being an important component of employee development.

As in so many parts of our society, businesses have too often neglected dealing with aberrant behavior. Supervisors choose to turn the other way rather than confront employees, or they simply terminate them without first trying to correct that behavior. Both courses are wrong as the first allows the behavior of employees in general to deteriorate to the lowest common denominator, while in the second an employee with good potential may be lost.

Yes, the unfortunate truth is that too many of our citizens have never been taught to comply with rules and regulations, and within the business world this can lead to low morale and reduced productivity. Interestingly it is most often the employees themselves who raise the issue with me in my practice. They complain that others “get away with things” or that they live in fear of termination at the blink of an eye, or a supervisor having a bad peer day! Make no mistake, either is bad, and the result for the owner is loss of profit.

So why does this happen. the answer is unfortunately that the boss has not made his wishes clear, and as a result supervisors are scared to alienate themselves from the employees, or to overstep the mark and loose an employee that they count on. Most often there is no formal disciplinary code, and even when there is supervisors are not trained in how to implement it.

The solution is going to sound much like what I have said before in this series:

Firstly, tell your employees how you expect them to behave. Have a formal disciplinary code in place, and make sure they understand the consequences of failure to comply;
· Secondly, make sure all supervisors are trained and counseled to apply the code fairly, objectively and across the board, no favoritism here;
· Thirdly, do what you say. If you give an employee a warning like, “If you are late again this week, you will be suspended,” and he is late again and not suspended, you have totally undermined your and your supervisors authority

In closing, I make the same observation that not all employees will react well to this kind of structure, but in the final event they may not be the kind of employee you want. In the long run, an effective disciplinary environment will be welcomed by your good employees, and your bottom line will look a lot better too! 

Michael Anderson

Meet the Author Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson has written 25 Articles on Small Business Delivered.

With 45 years of experience in leading positions in business across North America and internationally, Mike Anderson knows the business of business. More important, he has learned how to teach it. He is now consulting to small and medium sized companies, specializing in CEO and senior management training. Please Visit

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