Disciplinary Action

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Q. Discuss the use of disciplinary action in managing human resources?

Human Resource Management is the backbone of every company. From a business standpoint, Human Resource Management does many things from being a strategic partner with the corporate structure, dealing with job analysis, employee testing, recruiting and hiring, training and developing employees, establishing pay appraisal techniques, managing careers, and establishing employee compensation. Let's not forget that, since HRM (Human Resource Management) deals with employees it also has to discipline them when they create problems. A disci¬ple learns self-discipline by observing a disciplined teacher. Similarly, employees learn about discipline from their supervi¬sors. What the supervisor chooses to teach them is a choice; he can model respect, compassion and responsibility, or he can behave in an arrogant, demeaning and insulting manner. Common categories of disciplinary problems are attendance, poor performance, or misconduct. Attendance problems include unexcused absence, chronic absenteeism, unexcused or excessive tardiness, and leaving without permission. Poor performance includes failure to complete work assignments, producing substandard products or services, and failure to meet established production requirements. Misconduct includes theft, falsifying employment application, willfully damaging organizational property & punching another employee's time card. An employee not performing up to the agreed upon standards or not following the understood rules is subject to punishment, i.e., disciplinary action. The dirty secret about managing is that most business owners hate to discipline employees who are falling down on the job; they tend to put it off, hoping the problems resolve themselves. But things just get worse. Most entrepreneurs have limited experience getting a positive response when and if they do discipline their employees. Traditionally, slumping workers were simply fired. Maybe the boss went through a scripted "disciplinary procedure" suggested by lawyers to avoid possible wrongful termination lawsuits, but a focus on actually changing employee behavior was rare. Disciplinary Action

When a problem occurs, the manager/supervisor will have to determine the seriousness of the situation and the appropriate response. In making this decision the manager/supervisor needs to be fair towards the employee. Being thirty minutes tardy for work the fourth time in two weeks has to be handled differently from being thirty minutes tardy for the first time in two years. An employee should be disciplined because of what he did, not who he is and never because of race, colour, gender or anything else. Some factors to consider in making this determination are:

Past RecordWhat is the employee like? Is the behaviour consistent or inconsistent with past behaviour? IntentDid the employee act with intent or was the problem due to carelessness or inattention? FrequencyHow many times has the problem occurred?

Time FrameHas the problem occurred frequently in a relatively short period of time? RepetitionHas a similar or the same problem happened before? How long ago was the previous occurrence? SeriousnessHow serious is the problem and has it had a negative impact on the organization and/or other employees? Treatment of OthersHow have other employees been treated for the same behaviour? Admission and ApologyHas the employee admitted to behaving poorly and apologized for the behaviour? Figure 1

Before it becomes necessary to issue discipline including counseling memos and reprimands you should have policies in place which define the procedures to be followed. All the witnesses of the event should be asked about what happened. In discipline discussions with an employee, the supervisor points out the unsatisfactory behaviour, explains the need for and purpose of the rule or practice that is being violated, and...
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