April 17, 2004

paper on discipline

Growing Your People into Better People

Presented to: Dr. Kannenberg
MGMT 443 – Organizational Behavior

By A. Read Wall
April 14, 2004


I. Introduction pg. 3
II. The Need for and Intent of Discipline pg. 3
III. The Informal Process of Discipline pg. 4
IV. The Formal Process of Discipline pg. 6
V. Conclusion pg. 8

Although seen by many as “trouble,” disciplining people is an essential part of leadership, and knowing how to correctly approach it can go a long way in making it a truly effective and rewarding process. This paper seeks to present a productive and positive method of disciplining an individual in an organization. I will discuss the need for and the intent of a leader to discipline an employee, as well as both the informal and the formal methods of disciplining an employee.

The Need for and Intent of Discipline
It is quite obvious and well known that not every employee is going to be without incident and problem behaviors that need to be corrected. Sometimes this gap between what is expected and/or what is actually performed is due to lack of communication, improper training, and intentional lack of effort. (Gabor) Often, people lean away from the idea of applying discipline to that person. As a Christian leader, one can look to the Bible and easily determine that they have a responsibility to discipline their people. Perhaps the clearest statement of that responsibility is in Proverbs 27:5, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” And earlier in the same book chapter 13 verse 24 says, “He that sparreth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Even the world recognizes this responsibility: it is commonplace among the leaders of an organization to not recognize that they as leaders have a responsibility to help facilitate positive change in their people. (Jayne) If I do not discipline my people I do myself and them a great disservice by allowing them to continue in a behavioral pattern that is destructive both to them and to the organization.
The next question that comes to mind is what motivates my desire to discipline; I know I have a responsibility to correct people in order to prevent problems from persisting but am I disciplining to punish that person or to teach them, or maybe a better way of asking is am I motivated out of love or anger and frustration? Revelation 3:19 clearly states the answer to that question, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Once again, the world recognizes this issue as well when they say, “To many people, discipline means punishment. But, actually, to discipline means to teach. Rather than punishment, discipline should be a positive way of helping and guiding children to achieve self-control. (Discipline: A Parents Guide. National PTA, 1993)” (Marshall) “A manager’s job as a group leader is to help employees and the team win.” (Maister) “Instead of ‘follow me,’ the most effective managers say, ‘Let me help you.’” (Maister) According to the world, the leader seeks to help his/her subordinates by disciplining them in an attempt to grow them in areas they are weak not to punish them into obedience.
The Informal Process of Discipline
When you see discipline not as a reaction to conflict or poor performance, but as a process by which a leader grows and develops an individual then you need not fear it. You then recognize that discipline comes in two parts – preventative and corrective and a greater emphasis should be placed on preventative. In my research, most of the information seemed to talk about dealing with opportunities to grow on an informal level without formal disciplinary action, stemming from the idea that “Growth is greater when authority is used without punishment.” (Marshall)
In order to most effectively practice informal discipline, you have to understand that how you as a leader spend your time is of vital importance. Managers should be spending their time with their people, working beside them, helping them to do the job, providing guidance, observing them and their work habits, and setting the tone for the work environment. (Maister) By doing this, they are able to deal with potential problems and encourage them to improve in areas they are weak without having to take formal disciplinary action.
Dr. Marvin Marshall, believes that other people cannot force real change upon other people, only coerce them into temporary obedience. Real change comes from within, and must be brought about by the person themselves. When you recognize this, then you can make true progress with that person. He says that,
W. Edwards Deming, the world’s leader in quality in the workplace, understood that you cannot legislate or dictate intrinsic motivation (desire), performance, productivity, or quality work. He believed that all human beings are born with intrinsic motivation – an inner drive to learn, to take pride in their work, to experiment, and to improve. Stephen Covey said, ‘In all my experiences, I have never seen lasting solutions to problems, lasting happiness and success, that came from the outside in.’ (7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 1990, p. 43)” (Marshall)

A very effective way of constantly coaching your employees and helping them to create positive lasting change within themselves is while you are spending time with them, helping them to do their work, and talking with them you can be encouraging them and challenging them. A good leader knows that they need to be reinforcing positive behavior through “approval, visibility, recognition, and appreciation.” And when an employee performs well, acknowledge their achievement and then challenge them to strive for a higher goal. “When a good athlete successfully jumps over the high bar, a good coach celebrates the accomplishment and then raises the bar. A coach must be simultaneously the chief cheerleader and the chief critic – one without the other is insufficient.” The hinge upon which the informal discipline process rests is “Encouragement. Good managers … know that the only truly effective way to influence people is one on one, through individualized, closed-door counseling. Similarly, they pay attention to the individual. They are close enough to what the individual is doing to be able to offer substantive suggestions. And they are always dropping by to discuss an employee’s progress.” (Maister) “Think positively. How you motivate employees depends on what you think about them…. People pick up on what’s expected of them. When failure is expected, your workers probably will fail. When you expect success, however, most employees do whatever they can to avoid letting you down.” (Barton)
Dr. Marshall quotes Richard Sagor in his book, At Risk Students, when he states his belief that three things are required for a successful discipline program:
“• The maintenance of order
• The development of internal locus of control
• The promotion of pro-social behavior (Sagor, 1993, p. 150)”
Dr. Marshall believes that you should implement a “guidance approach” that places an emphasis on individual acknowledging their negative behavior, the individual evaluates themselves, the individual “takes ownership of the problem,” and the individual develops a strategy to accomplish the change, and in this process the individual grows. (Marshall)
The Formal Process of Discipline
Not all problems can be resolved within the informal process of coaching. It could be that the person did not respond to your assistance on an informal level, or due to the serious nature of the issue you have to take more formal approach. Even when you must take formal actions against someone, remember that this is a positive experience, or at least it should be. Try to be gentle and encouraging, not harsh and condemning. (Maister) If you keep in mind that you are there to help that person change their behavior, not humiliate them, then it will be easier on both of you. (Gabor) “Positivity is a more constructive teacher than negativity.” (Marshall)
Within each organization there will be, or should be, formal steps outlined that you will have to follow. Here are some universal things to bear in mind when you have to take formal action with someone:
• Do not drag your feet. A common mistake among leaders is a lack of promptness in regards to handling a problem, they notice it but do not address it until it is old news. (Barton)
• Investigate and document the facts objectively before you confront the person, the last thing you want to do is confront a person and then have trouble proving your case, or even worse, being wrong. This may cause the person to believe that it is a personal issue with you. (Riddel)
• Define clear and measurable expectations for them to reach. (Riddel)
• Draft a plan of action detailing how the person intends to change, and how you can help them. (Riddel)
• Clearly explain the consequences of not changing. (Riddel)
“Do make your comments and corrections specific.
Do preface constructive criticism with praise.
Don’t chide an employee in the presence of coworkers.
Do remain friendly after a reprimand.
Do ask questions to make sure your staff understands what you expect.
Don’t avoid confronting hard-to-handle subordinates….
…Do say positive things about your staff in front of their coworkers.
Do let workers know that you’re available for questions.
Do use your sense of humor to make your staff feel comfortable.
Don’t forget that making small talk with you staff shows that you care about the important matters in their live’s.” (Gabor)
Remember that everyone makes mistakes, if all you ever do is tell them what they did wrong, then they will never feel appreciated and thus not motivated to be the outstanding employee that they could be. When offering criticism, you should always offer encouragement with it. (Gabor)
Conclusion: Positive Reinforcement
In my experience as a supervisor and teacher both in and out of work, I have developed a simple and effective approach to discipline that extends naturally out of my leadership style. My goal as a leader is to “inspire my people to aspire to greatness in themselves.” With this goal in mind, I believe that the best way to inspire greatness is to discourage the negative by encouraging the positive. This process cultivates the greatness, and does not force it. This process of positive reinforcement is divided into two groups of five principles each – the precepts and the practices.
1. Negativity breeds more negativity and negativity never leads to positive.
2. People can change; and a good leader has a responsibility to help them facilitate that change.
3. It is the responsibility of the person to change; and the responsibility of the leader to teach them what needs to change, why it needs to change, how it can change and then provide the encouragement, support, and feedback necessary to make the change.
4. Pick your battles wisely; do not make a mountain out of a mole hill.
5. Telling is not the same as teaching. A habit takes time to develop and even longer to break.
1. Make sure all of your ducks are in a row BEFORE you go hunting. Investigate the situation, make sure your facts are straight and indeed facts before you act upon them.
2. If you drag your feet, you might just stumble. Do not wait until you have a list of infractions to throw at the person, deal with each one as they come as quickly as possible.
3. Do not be afraid to tell the truth; be straight forward and honest, but gentle.
4. Reinforce the positive. When they do something well, acknowledge them for it. Never criticize without offering encouragement as well. They should feel appreciated and encouraged to do well. Set high standards and then HELP them reach them.
5. Set clear expectations before hand; you cannot hold people to standards they are ignorant of.

Works Cited
Bible, King James Version
Riddel, Don, “Ensure employee accountability: Documentation is key.” Nation’s Restaurant News, Vol. 30, Issue 9, March 4, 1996, p. 36
Marshall, Marvin, Ed.D, “RETHINKING OUR THINKING ON DISCIPLINE, EMPOWER – RATHER THAN OVERPOWER”, Education Week, Vol. 17, Number 37, Pages 32 & 36, May 27, 1998,
Maister, David and Patrick McKenna, “Coaching Your Business Team”, Leading Edge, January, 2003. pp. 26 & 30.
Jayne, Vicki, “Coaching Pays”, New Zealand Management, Vol. 51, Issue 1, p. 47, Feb. 2004.
Gabor, Don, “How to handle the conversations every manager dreads.” Executive Female, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p. 34 March/April 1994
Barton, Susan, “Growing a Garden of Motivation”, American Nurseryman, Vol. 193, Issue 1, January 1, 2001, p. 46

Posted by GodzScout at April 17, 2004 02:23 PM