Does Your Discipline Process Work (Part 1)?

I recently heard a client say, ” I have never seen an employee stick around after having been through a performance improvement process.”

The challenge in many organizations is that they view discipline the wrong way. The process is filled with warnings, threats, and ultimatums, and as a result good people leave bad managers.

On the other hand, when discipline is done correctly, it can be a process that helps an employee and team be successful.

It’s really about building commitment instead of compliance.

Here are a few underlying assumptions that I believe should drive your discipline process and will help you build commitment on your team.

  • Discipline can be conducted in a way that maintains a team members’ sense of self-worth. (Marginalizing people is not an effective way to gain their long-term commitment in the discipline process.)
  • The discipline process is typically conducted when behavioral change does not result from regular feedback. Feedback is a separate process that almost always precedes discipline. There are exceptions to this rule, such as an egregious act of harassment or violating external regulations.
  • Everyone has a right to know what is expected of them and what they need to do to succeed. Leaders who don’t have the courage to tell employees through both the feedback and discipline process are failing in their role as a leader.
  • Discipline is a process to help people succeed and to let them know when they are not meeting your expectations.
  • The same principles apply as in feedback – discipline should be behavioral based, specific, and timely.
  • The team member must be involved in the process to gain commitment to behavioral change. They must have responsibility for making the change.

What assumptions underline how your organization handles discipline?

Stay tuned for part 2 for more on the positive discipline process.

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