Discipline in employee behaviour is critical to achieving organisational performance and success.
(a) What is meant the term discipline?
(b) Describe the six steps involved in a formal disciplinary procedure.
Understanding the problems of discipline in the employment situation are important management skills. Professional accountants often occupy a managerial position. Whilst a knowledge of motivation techniques is an important element in management, it is equally important to recognise the other side of motivation, that of discipline.
(a) Discipline is achieved in an organisation when organisational members behave sensibly and conduct themselves in accordance with standards of behaviour acceptable to the organisation’s rules, goals and objectives.
Discipline may be positive. The employee is encouraged to conform to good practices and acceptable behaviour through for example training and the presence and consistent application of rules and procedures.
Discipline on the other hand, may be negative. This is the situation where actions may be taken to ensure that the organisation’s members behave in an appropriate way. Such actions include punishment, deterrent or reformative measures.
(b) Proper disciplinary procedures are essential for harmonious relationships between management and staff. They are also increasingly a legal requirement and are important in a litigious society. A six step approach to disciplinary actions is recommended.
The Informal Talk.
If the disciplinary matter is of a minor nature and the individual has had until this occasion a good record, then an informal meeting can often resolve the issue.
Reprimand or Oral Warning.
Here the manager draws the attention of the employee to unsatisfactory behaviour, a repeat of which could lead to formal disciplinary proceedings.
Official or Written Warning.
A written warning is a serious matter. It draws the attention of the offending employee to a serious breach of conduct and remains a recorded document on the employee’s employment history. Such written documents can be used as evidence if further action is taken, especially dismissal.
Suspension or Lay-off.
If an offence is of a serious nature, if the employee has repeated an earlier offence or if there have been repeated problems then an employee may be suspended from work for a period of time without pay.
This is a situation where an employee is demoted to a lower salary or position level within an organisation. This is a very serious step to take and can be regarded as a form of internal dismissal. This course of action can have negative repercussions because the employee concerned will feel dissatisfied and such feelings can affect their own work and that of others.
This is the ultimate disciplinary measure and should be used only in the most extreme cases. As with demotion, the dismissal of a staff member can lead to wider dissatisfaction amongst the employees.
Although a procedure is a legal requirement in some circumstances, the above is a recommendation which will vary in detail between organisations and countries.