Disciplinary Action Is Critical To Maintaining Order

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Disciplinary action - yes - can be one of the most important aspects of developing your team - if used properly.

Don’t run from it - embrace it. Use discretion however!

Don’t ever use disciplinary action to set an example for everyone else - or to send a message to the others. It is issued as a result of their current behavior. Not theirs - or anyone else’s future behavior.

Disciplinary Action: Stop signs are for one purpose... To stop traffic!

You see setting expectations is important. Just as a Stop Sign sets the expectation that you are to STOP. If you don’t - and you are caught - what might you expect? That’s right - a traffic ticket and possibly higher insurance rates. Therefore most people STOP.

As an example - if your expectation is that they arrive on time to work or they will receive some type of disciplinary action - then how can they be surprised if you deliver it. Of course I am talking in the most basic sense. Certainly if they have a valid reason - then it is not an issue.

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Here is where most disciplinary action programs fall short and fail. This is of course if you already have the foundation in place that I spoke above about.

Most managers or business owners fail at having a sound disciplinary action program in place because - they don’t follow through. Or they use selective enforcement.

Sure they use the excuse that they don’t have time to deal with it right now. I guess they will have time later when they are unemployed or out of business due to lack of productivity by their crew. In fact - the irony is - in most cases their crew is still their after they are gone. Unless they went out of business.

There is one thing very evident about a manager with poor leadership skills - they are all over the board when it comes to issuing deserved disciplinary action.

Many leaders think the employee will get better on their own - sure - that’s going to work - it always does - right - Wrong!

Disciplinary Action: What are you reinforcing?

They shy away from disciplinary action because they believe the employee is going to change. Well the employee does change - but generally for the worse. What you REINFORCE by not doing - what you say your going to do - is REINFORCE - that your not going to do - what you say your going to do. It is as simple and basic as that.

In fact you loose their respect.


Disciplinary Action: Your credibility is shot...

Your credibility is shot. You also risk an unfair labor practice - discrimination - wrongful discharge. In other words you put your business at risk.

You think you’re a nice guy/gal and WAM - your hit with a lawsuit right between your eyes. You didn’t see it coming - or did you?

On the flip side of that same coin - don’t issue disciplinary action like a loose cannon. Where there are no exceptions.

You must balance both - not reacting at all - and over reacting to everything.

My Dad always told us that his father would punish everyone in the family if he was not sure who did it. Keep in mind that my Dad was the oldest of 13 brothers and sisters.

There was a lot of spanking going on when he was in doubt. But the thing that rang out clearly was even though my Dad never said it - he thought his father was very unfair and lazy.

He had no respect for him then - and to this day it really shows. Now this was not the only thing his father did of course to lose his sons respect - but it was a part of it.

You may ask why I mentioned lazy along with unfair. Instead of trying to get to the truth - he took the rush to judgment approach because - again we are way too busy - or lazy.

In my grandfather’s case - it was evident that he was lazy in almost everything he did in life. Always looking for the easy way - instead of the right way.

Again if you are too busy - you will have a lot more time to sort things out when you are out of business or unemployed.

Disciplinary Action: Behavior or performance...

Keep in mind when we talk about disciplinary action - we are talking about behavior and not performance.

It is important that you are setting expectations first - and make them clear.

Performance is much different than behavior. Sounds simple and it is.

Here is a scenario…

You are responsible for the housekeepers in a hotel. The average housekeeper cleans a room in about 20 to 30 minutes - depending on the complexity of the room. Could be longer or shorter - but for the purpose of this discussion let’s say 30 minutes.

You hire a new housekeeper - train them - but at the end of the first full day you on their own you discover that they only cleaned half the rooms assigned to them.

In fact - it is taking them 1 hour plus to clean each room. You inspect the rooms they cleaned and find that they are cleaned very well.

You were the one that trained them personally so you know that you showed them properly.

Is this behavior or performance?

Well in fact we are not sure yet - at least I hope you were not quick to judge one way or the other.

It could be performance if they are actively cleaning the room for that hour - but - unknowingly they were using the wrong procedure when it came to cleaning the bathroom and making the bed.

You ask them about this and they tell you that they thought that you had shown them that way. You reinstruct them in the proper way to do both.

It is performance if in the next few days days they are closer to the 30 minute time and they are following the correct procedure.

This would be considered performance since at first they weren’t competent. After you reinstructed them - they became competent.

Change the outcome a little and it becomes behavior.

Same thing except when they answer your question about how they were cleaning the bathroom and making the bed - they tell you that they know how you showed them but they have been doing it their way for over 20 years in other hotels they worked in and their boss and customers never complained about it.

They follow up with - weren’t the rooms cleaned that I did - so they ask you what's the big deal?

I would consider this behavior because they could do it - but chose not to.

So let’s bottom line this.

If they can - but don’t - it is generally behavior and may require disciplinary action.

Again don’t jump to conclusions. The process of checking facts is critical. Make sure you are setting expectations from day one with...

Sound Policies and Procedures

Employee Handbook

Positions Descriptions

Good Training Program

Remember this old rule…

Past practice - predicts future performance.

In review - make sure you do the following…

Hold everyone equally accountable based on your sound ability of checking facts abilities.

Use the appropriate level of employee discipline that fits - generally based on your progressive disciplinary procedures.

Thank you and may God bless you!

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