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Updated 29 Feb 2020


How to effectively manage disciplinary issues in your business

Disciplinary activities should be aimed at guidance and rehabilitation rather than punishment. It is less expensive to correct than to replace. While it is unfortunately true that correction is not always an option, it will serve you well to adopt a sound disciplinary process aligned with these 10 simple steps. 


Su-Mari du Bruyn, 15 September 2016  Share  0 comments  Print


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Dealing with disciplinary issues is probably one of the least favourite activities of any manager. However, having a disciplinary procedure in place plays an important role in ensuring that individual team members are clear on what is expected of them and it enables them to contribute effectively and efficiently to the goals of the organisation.

It is a manager’s responsibility to ensure that discipline is applied as soon as possible, after any alleged transgression has occurred and to ensure that discipline is applied fairly and consistently. 

Related: Are you managing to manage well?

Here are 10 tips to assist you in dealing with disciplinary matters: 

  1. Ensure that you and your team members are familiar with the company rules. Do not simply assume that your staff is familiar with the rules – whether they are relatively new to your business or have been with the company for many years.
  2. Get the facts before you act.
  3. Know your authority and operate within it. The company’s disciplinary procedure should give you clear guidelines on what is expected of you. You should not be scared or reluctant to act, provided that you follow the procedure. Do not hesitate to ask for help (e.g. consult your HR representative or your line manager) if you are uncertain.
  4. Raise the issue in private.
  5. Outline your concerns and the problems caused by the transgression. Get an understanding of why the individual is not performing as desired and offer help where appropriate. Be clear on the desired behaviour and corrective measures and make sure that they understand your expectations.
  6. Discipline is not meant to be retaliatory – it has to be constructive and consistent to be effective. Maintain your own and the employee’s dignity at all times – you will more than likely be working together after the incident, so remain calm and be professional.
  7. Act decisively and fair. 
  8. Offer assistance and end on a positive note, ensuring that both parties commit to the appropriate action and support.
  9. Keep a written record and if possible, get the employee to sign the record of the meeting and provide them with a copy.
  10. Follow up within a reasonable time to determine if the desired change in behaviour has taken place.

Related: Happy employees help keep a business growing

Disciplinary activities should be aimed at guidance and rehabilitation rather than punishment. It is always less expensive to correct than to replace. While it is unfortunately true that correction is not always an option, it will serve you well to adopt a sound disciplinary process.

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About the author


Su-Mari du Bruyn

Su-Mari Du Bruyn is a corporate motivation speaker and has spoken at multiple enterprises ranging from staff self-esteem issues, how to plan and set goals, to how to self-motivate.

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