This one took some time to get here but I’m happy that I finally get the chance to write it.
When I conduct Basic Supervisory and Leadership courses, I talk about the roles managers and supervisors play in maintaining discipline in the workplace. Often, the participants act surprised at the amount of responsibility they have regarding the subject matter.
I’ve seen how much supervisors and managers feel uncomfortable about taking corrective and punitive action on erring employees. Heck, even I feel uncomfortable about doing it! I guess confronting people is something you don’t grow to love. This is one big reason why a lot of them relegate the role of policing to HRD. I remember a time when one manager asked me to “take care” of his staff. I asked him “why don’t you do it your self? I’ll just help you by seeing to it that you do not violate any law in addressing the erring employee. He said “ She might resent me and that would ruin our relationship, that’s why it is better for HRD to do it. Come on! Is that the kind of working relationship you want to have? One where there is no open communication and no way to address problems without the help of HRD?
But hey, I’m digressing. Maintaining discipline in the workplace have a lot less to do with taking punitive action than setting and leveling expectations. The first and right step towards having a disciplined team is ensuring that managers understand the concept, their role and what needs to be done to ensure that team members comply with company policies all the time. Here are some of the things that I think HRD needs to do in order to help maintain discipline in the workplace:
- Delegate disciplining to Line managers and supervisors. They must realize that Discipline is a line function and that the role of HRD is to draft it, get organizational buy-in and guide managers in implementing them. Considering the diversity of roles of HRD, HR people cannot possibly implement and enforce company policies with efficiency.
- Have the managers and supervisors communicate their thoughts about compliance with company policies. As expected, they should be for it rather than against it. Sometimes it hurts that the managers themselves are heard saying that a certain policy is just a whim of HRD and shouldn’t be taken seriously. If I were a line manager, this is what I’ll say: Team, I want you to understand that it is important for me that we all follow the rules and regulations of the company. I believe that they serve important purpose and they serve as guide for us so that we don’t overstep boundaries in the course of doing our jobs. I will not tolerate noncompliance and please don’t test me because I will not hesitate to take action against people who don’t follow policies.”
- Ensure that managers model right behavior. One sure way to put company policies into the waste basket is to have the ones in authority violate it and get away with it. Need I say more?
- Make managers accountable for their team’s compliance and non-compliance to company policies.
- Have a clearly written code of discipline with a schedule of disciplinary action and disciplinary action procedure. Have managers go through thorough induction and have them learn how to implement it.
- Clarify the roles of managers in the disciplinary action process and make sure that they are properly guided in exercising their roles.
- Send managers to relevant courses on maintaining discipline in the workplace. One particular course that I find very helpful is the Workers Institute on Labor Laws by UP SOLAIR. When I attended it in 1999, I found some line supervisors and managers attending the same program. These helped them understand what they can do to secure compliance to company policies without violating the rights of employees among other things.
Following points 1 to 4 will help reduce the need to take punitive action, while items 5 to 7 ensures that managers know what to do in case they have employees who violate company policies. I personally believe that taking punitive actions should come as a last resort. Maintaining discipline in the workplace requires both HRD and line manager to take a proactive stance by being serious about communicating company policies by talking about them, modeling them and ensuring that people follow them.
If you need help in getting this done in your organization, let me know. If you want to add to what I just said, please click on that little comment button below and post it.
Hmmm, I wonder what I'll write about next…