One of the most difficult and dreadful task for many leaders is having to discipline one of their member. Any good leader can tell you that they don’t look forward to this but rather dwell on the fact that it hast to be done. And that’s the fact and nature of leadership. Sometimes you must resort to disciplining your member for the betterment of the individual and the team. Like with most things, there isn’t one definite way to discipline your employee. But you can use the CHIE leadership philosophy in situation needing employee discipline to help you get the best outcome.
As leaders, our focus and efforts are spent on guiding those who follow us to achieve success. We take pleasure in helping those in our charge grow and develop professionally and even personally. No pleasure is taken away whenever we need to discipline our employees. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that there aren’t leaders out there who seems to derive great joy when they discipline someone. There certainly are leaders who are just constantly looking for any excuse to discipline. They do so regularly with pride. I would suggest we re-evaluate these individuals to see if they have any good leadership values and if they are even true leaders at all.
While pleasure isn’t something that should be taken away from employee discipline, the act itself is necessary.
- Policy– In order to discipline someone, they must have clearly broken a set of rules and regulation in place. Your organization must have a clear policy on personal conduct that’s distributed and made easily available for all employees at all times. It’s difficult to justify disciplining an employee when you can’t pin point to where and how they’ve made any violations. In many cases, it’s illegal to discipline an employee if you don’t have a company policy to point to where they’ve gone wrong. Check with your HR department and make sure such a company policy is in place.
- Process– There are steps and levels of discipline appropriate for disciplining an employee. As a leader, you must be sensible in your decision to discipline your employee and how you go about doing so. For acts of violence, physical abuse and even harassment, it may be fair to terminate the individual on the spot. But you definitely shouldn’t do so if an employee comes to work late for the first time. The proper discipline response must be applied to the violation. Many company policies would have guidelines to help you determine this. But if one doesn’t exist, use your best judgement and be sensible in your decision.
- Consistency– As you lead your team and you must practice disciplining your employees whenever needed, you must remember to do so consistently. Consistency in here doesn’t mean to regularly discipline your members. It means to discipline consistently for the same reasons. What you don’t want is to discipline one employee for violating dress code, but not another. It can’t be based on what mood you’re in. Be consistent in your decision otherwise it will only cause confusion and your members to question your leadership.
- Honesty– When you must discipline an employee, be honest about it and be willing to listen. Allow the employee to speak and share their point of view on the matter and admit when a mistake or misunderstanding is made. It’s ok to admit that you’ve misunderstood the intention of the member or that the member sincerely didn’t understand the violation. Be sensible and allow open dialog to occur. Ultimately, if the situation can be resolved without the full and complete act of discipline, the better it is for all parties.
- Integrity– One of the thing discipline must not be used for is personal pleasure or revenge. I’m sure we all have our own personal stories of how we’ve witness leaders use discipline as a tool to get back at others. You must show great integrity when you decide whether to discipline someone. It must not be for you, but for the betterment of the team, the company and even for the individual being disciplined.
- Empathy– There are different process and levels of discipline you must take in the process of disciplining your members. The first step should always be to seek to understand and empathize. Make sure you do what you can to understand the situation and provide support to the individual before you even consider discipline. Once you’ve determined that your empathy has gone on deaf ears and that it’s possibly even been taken advantage of, then you can begin to consider disciplinary actions.
Many new leaders struggle with disciplining their employees. This is quite normal as it’s a skill that must be learned and practice. What you must remember is that you don’t do this for your own benefit. I would go as far as to say you must sacrifice your own personal comfort to discipline your members in order to build a stronger team.
At the end of the day, the purpose of employee discipline should be to hold those who blatantly break the rules accountable. The outcome should be to show that you hold everyone to a high degree of integrity. Anyone who doesn’t abide by the same rules will be held accountable. In doing so, we set examples for others and we build a stronger team.
Photo by: Mathew Henry
Denny Nguyen, a veteran IT leader and experienced operational manager with 15+ years working in the software and software related service industry. Currently, Denny oversees global operations of LogiGear including IT infrastructure and services, and facility worldwide and marketing and business development for the APAC region.
Started out as a test engineer, Denny has excelled his career into project management, IT management, account management, customer relation management, and marketing and sales management. In 2004, when LogiGear began to establish its present in Vietnam with two Software Testing & Research centers in Saigon and the third center in 2009 in Danang, Denny was instrumental and the key leader who was chartered to build out the entire foundation and infrastructure for LogiGear to grow for the next twenty years.