Discipline: The Key to Team Energy

By Bob Rausch, Ph.D.

If I were to ask you to define discipline what would you say? I want to give you a view of discipline that you may not have thought of and how to implement it on your team.

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Observations about discipline:

  1. Confrontation avoidance – Many people don’t like to discipline their employees because they view it as a form of confrontation, which might lead to conflict and people avoid conflict like they would a plague.
  2. Discipline is perceived as judgment and punishment – Discipline is much more than judgment or punishment. However, in some cases discipline does result in judgment and suffering a penalty, although these are the extremes.
  3. Discipline is about correcting behavior – The word discipline comes from Greek and means, “to save the mind.” It’s about correcting a person’s behavior so they do the right thing, in the right way.
  4. Discipline saves time and energy – It makes more sense to take action and discipline someone than it does to waste time and energy thinking about it.

The Four Stages of Effective Discipline

There are four progressive stages of discipline that can be used to deal with individuals and help a team use its energy more effectively.  These progressive stages are designed to help the employee develop into an effective team member.

  1. Communicate – It’s important that a person understand what is expected of him or her.
  2. Concern – The second stage of discipline takes place when an employee does not fulfill their job responsibilities. This stage is a “gentle” reminder to adjust any behavior or activity that needs correcting.
  3. Coach – If negative behavior or activity continues the manager intensifies the need for change. This is a firm approach to discover why the employee has not made corrections. These are designed to provide firm re-direction for the employee and may take more than one meeting.
  4. Consequence – This is literally the last opportunity for the employee to change the behavior or activity. If the employee does not change the activity or behavior the consequence is to find another job.

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