If the thought of a disciplinary meeting for one of your employees causes a knot to form in the pit of your stomach, you are not alone. Many leaders dread and sometimes stall these meetings as long as possible. We often equate discipline to punishment. Punishment feels negative, confrontational, and uncomfortable.
The word discipline has several definitions – punishment, a system of rules or study, self-control, and to train and develop via instruction. In a recent article, my friend, Tom Arceneaux, stated that the words ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the Latin word ‘discipulus’ which means student, follower, and trainee.
If a disciple is one who follows you, then as the leader, the people that choose to follow you deserve a positive relationship with you. These are not the people you bark at. Your followers (staff) deserve your attention and support so they can excellently produce the work required to accomplish the goals.
Good leaders know that chastising, berating, and yelling at an employee often results in passive-aggressive behaviors and performance barely at the acceptable level. For this reason and more, poor discipline is a disservice to the employee, the co-workers, the department, the company, and yourself. When employees and junior leaders need a change in behavior, training with a positive mindset is infinitely more effective.
Here is a step-by-step guide:
RESEARCH Observe the behavior and determine the seriousness and effects.
MEET Visit with the employee. Specifically describe the behavior and the implications. In a caring voice, mention that you want to help her/him get back on track.
DEMONSTRATE Show and/or explain the correct method.
WATCH Be sure they reproduce the correct behavior.
AGAIN Have the employee demonstrate it again.
FOLLOW-UP Observe the employee at their job to be sure the training worked. If it didn’t, restart with #2 above.
PRAISE Let the employee know that you see and appreciate the improvement.
The next time you are faced with poor performance from an employee, think STUDENT and adopt a TRAINING mind-set. Instead of labeling it “discipline”, call it “additional training.” This simple word change can alter the perception of the conversation for both you and the employee.
Teri Haynes | Business Interactions, LLC | Improving human interactions in business