Set Clear Expectations
Establishing what you expect is one of the most important parts of an effective discipline strategy. If you want to reach your goals, you have to set clear guidelines for what you can and cannot do. The same applies to your employees. If an employee doesn’t know what you expect, their behavior will reflect that. It sets you and your employees up for success to show them what you want and expect. At bare minimum, establish an employee handbook that sets clear expectations for performance, boundaries, and appropriate disciplines for non-compliance.
To do better than bare minimum, keep the expectations of the company in your conversations. Remind people why you expect employees to behave and perform in a certain manner. Make sure that it is a conversation, not a lecture. Employees that take an interest in your company will appreciate disciplinary limitations more if they understand how they are involved in the process of accomplishing your goals.
Define The Problem And The Solution
If it comes down to disciplinary action, make sure to follow a specific structure for reprimands and escalation. If you are having behavior issues with an employee, make sure to document violations. When you meet with an employee, provide the written records and talk about specific examples of disagreeable behavior. If this is an early intervention, keep the meeting conversational and try to ascertain why the employee felt that their action was appropriate. You could ask them how they would solve the issue which would push them to be accountable for their actions and let you gauge whether or not they take the violation seriously.
Try not to be the company that focuses on discipline. Obviously disciplinary actions need to be taken when serious violations happen and you don’t wanna go easy on violations that could affect your business. However, if the situation allows, focus on positive solutions and turn negative behavior into an opportunity to grow.
Address Small Issues Before They Become Big Issues
This is important. You can avoid all the headache of huge disciplinary meetings, terminations and even possible legal battles if you address the little things before they become big things. Even consistent 5 minute tardiness on a shift where your employee must be in their desk and performing their job can be costly. What happens when it gets to 10 minutes? Can you recoup that cost? Your employee needs to be reminded of your expectations now before habit becomes harder to break.
On the other side of the coin, you also need to remember that the most effective employees aren’t always the people that show up 15 minutes early and keep their desk organized. While these are good practices that every employee should strive for, the most effective employees are people that help the business grow and get smarter. There are things that people do in the workplace that are absolutely cause for termination. Theft or property damage come to mind. However, an effective employee needs to be rerouted on poor behavior before you jump toward termination. Employees will surprise you if you give them the opportunity to.
Be Consistent In How You Apply Discipline
If you are going to have a traditional discipline plan, you need to make sure you apply it fairly across the board. Your employees won’t know what you expect as a manager if you allow one employee to be late consistently and discipline another for the same actions. Your consistency will establish a baseline for the boundaries that employees need to work within and that baseline should mirror your expectations. You also want to make sure that you are consistent because if you silently condone behaviors that you disagree with, your employees won’t know that they need to make an adjustment. If you are more of a flexible boss on certain things, you still need to establish a consistent line that employees cannot cross. Consistency is one of the most effective and easy-to-apply tools for discipline as long as you d0n’t deviate from what you expect.
Model The Behavior You Want To See As A Manager
An effective manager has to lead and make decisions that affect the conditions that employees work under. If you want to maintain a model workplace and avoid the workplace discipline headache, you need to model the behavior that you want to see in your employees. If you behave in a consistent manner, your employees will too. This can be difficult to master, especially when it comes to accountability. You don’t want to undermine yourself, but if you display that you hold yourself accountable for the results of your actions, employees will do the same. Show your employees how to behave instead of expecting them to come in knowing. An employee handbook is a great resource, especially when it comes to discipline measures, but it’s not going to be as effective as modelled behavior.
You can also cultivate the mindset difference for many employees between a job and a career, no matter what you do. A good leader should strive to have employees that want more than to just show up, do their job, and leave. You can make your workplace somewhere worth coming to and the time spent at work something that your employees anticipate. Don’t concentrate on punishments like you would give a child because those don’t necessarily work to make your workplace enjoyable. Incentivise positive behavior, include brainstorming and idea sessions in your work week that give employees the opportunity to share good ideas and see them implemented, and make management accessible. Give your employees the opportunity to do more than “occupy space” and watch how quickly they seize it.
At HJR Global, we want to see managers become effective leaders and business owners inspire employees that will help their business grow. We help businesses at any stage, from new startup to established business, and can show owners ways to grow, manage their current business, and even find financing options for new business ventures. For more information, visit our website or contact us today.