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Friday, October 28, 2011

Some Thoughts on Maintaining Discipline in the Workplace

These last few days gave me several opportunities to talk about and listen to what other people say regarding discipline in the work place.  I will not try to relate all of them together, instead, I am writing them here as bits of pieces of ideas that you may pick up in case you are interested. Here goes...

Clarifying HR and Line Management Roles in Maintaining Discipline
Who hires and fires? If you answered HR, then you are wrong. HR is instrumental to  it but it should never be HR's call to hire and fire unless they are hiring a person for the department. Hiring, discipling and firing is a line responsibility. Line managers must be equipped to do it. HR on the other hand must be equipped to help but not take away that responsibility from a line manager. Why? Because line managers must take responsibility for the choices they make. In one BPO company where I worked. I told managers, they will have to fire the people they hire if those people fail to meet performance expectations. If they don't like firing people, they should do two things. Hire the best candidate and equip them so they can achieve their performance objectives.

Invest in Values Clarification and you'll spend less time policing.
Someone said (or at least this is how I remembered it) that maintaining discipline is largely a function of leadership. If organizational and individual values are clear then there won't be much need for so much code of discipline and schedule of disciplinary action. I totally agree and I hope that in the future there really won't be much need for them. While we can't prove yet that they are not necessary, let's keep them handy for the mean time :)

Start at Hiring the Right Person for the Job
Somebody asked "what should I give more weight in hiring, skill or attitude?" I answered most people get fired due to their attitude rather than their skills. The best answer should be both but more often, hiring managers get attracted to experience and skills because they are more visible and easier to distinguish. Attitude on the other hand, specially the bad ones are masked to the candidates best ability.  For this reason, those who make hiring decisions must be fully equipped to  make more informed decisions rather than rely solely on their guts.  What I mean is train your managers to read all those psychometric reports and then help them learn to ask more than the traditional questions that we often hear like "tell me about yourself" etc.

Sing the Same Song
Workplace Discipline is achieved through a collaborative effort and commitment of all managing parties.  Often we see inconsistencies between what HR says during employee orientation and what managers and supervisors say or allow on the floor. This causes ambiguity and lack of commitment among workers. I also notice that those who look the other way when employees violate rules tend to get more popular than those who enforce the rules. No wonder many managers choose to look the other way. In some companies, this has become so prevalent that there's already a valley of gap between what is written and what is practiced. Don't let this happen to your company. Gather the bosses and talk about how all of you can be consistent in your message of maintaining discipline in the workplace.

I conduct workshops on maintaining discipline in the workplace. Contact me if you wish to have one for your company or see my typical course outline below.

Ed Ebreo - Maintaining Discipline in the Workplace Workshop

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