Balancing Discipline and Performance

By Kelly Services

There is an always interesting and fascinating correlation between discipline and performance in the workplace, and the best managers seem to understand that they must attempt to balance a high level of discipline and decorum while also creating an atmosphere of high performance.

While discipline is necessary in many occasions, managers must dispense it carefully to avoid the employees involved from “giving up” on an attitude of high performance. Sadly, the imposition of discipline sometimes results in reduced performance of individuals, teams, or departments. For obvious reasons, management wants to avoid this result, yet it can occur because of the “method” of discipline used.

Successfully managing this balance between discipline and high performance is a combination of manager and employee personalities, workplace situations and pressures, as well as effective management techniques and strategies.

Here are a few tips to help you manage this volatile combination:

  • Learn how to use progressive discipline effectively. New managers might think, at first, that classic “in your face” discipline will result in higher performance. But progressive discipline involves assisting – not punishing – an employee to understand why his/her performance or actions are unacceptable in the workplace. This can then extend into helping the employee overcome the behaviour. In many cases, this discipline strategy achieves its intended result: Developing a high-performing employee.
  • Initial reprimands and discipline should be oral and private. Resisting the temptation to document early discipline activities gives the employee the opportunity to correct unacceptable behaviour without suffering any permanent damage to his/her career. Using pure oral, low key reprimands delivered privately (to avoid public embarrassment) gives the majority of people the opportunity to adjust their behaviour and become productive members of your team without the necessity of formal negative entries to their personnel file.
  • Speak to the employee to learn if there are outside or personal issues causing the behaviour. As a manager, you spend approximately one-half of your waking days with your employees and yet, you often know little about their personal and outside lives. Many times, their behaviour – particularly when inappropriate – is a mystery to you, but personal pressures, including spouses, children, finances, or family illnesses, may prey upon their psyche to a level that leads to problems at work. Having a private personal discussion with your employee to give him/her the opportunity to verbalize these issues may give you both an opportunity to clear the air and put a stop to the behaviour during work time.

There is no silver bullet; effective managers must develop their own style and "feel" for situations, few of which will be duplicates of others. As always, the goal is to generate high performance from all team members. Using one or all of these tips should help create a bridge to span the discipline/performance gap. Managers, however, must accept the fact that they cannot mandate, demand, or coerce employees to become model team members. You can only give your employees the opportunity to eliminate discipline problems and become high performers.

This article is originally published on powered by Kelly Services.