Disciplinary Procedures Suggested by Business Management
If you run a business, sooner or later you will have to
discipline your employees. It’s often one of the hardest chores an
owner or manager has. For one thing, nobody wants to be seen as a
“bad guy.” Discipline also forces you to put on your “authority”
hat; most people in the kitchen and bath industry seem to enjoy
So why discipline employees? First of all, because you need to
get basic tasks done efficiently, fairly, and at a profit.
Secondly, allowing disruptive or non-productive actions by an
employee penalizes other employees and encourages them to act
As a manager, you make decisions every day. If you overlook actions
that call for discipline, you’ve actually made a very poor
decision. You are, in effect, sanctioning unacceptable
According to business management experts, many people mistake
discipline for “punishment.” It is not. Discipline is aimed at
changing unacceptable behavior.
Discipline also has nothing to do with mistakes. Everybody makes
mistakes. Measuring a kitchen incorrectly, for example, is not a
discipline problem, but an error.
By discipline problems, management specialists mean problems
like taking two hours for lunch instead of one, coming to work
late, taking coffee breaks too frequently, being excessively
absent, talking to other employees rather than working, being rude
to a client, and the like.
The place to start addressing these is with information. It’s
vital that employees know exactly what’s expected of them. If lunch
has not been defined as “one hour,” a manager can’t blame an
employee for taking more time than that. If there’s no formal
starting time, then nobody is ever late.
If you haven’t given every employee an idea of how you want them
to behave in writing, it’s a good idea to have a formal meeting of
your employees to set guidelines. Here are some suggestions on how
to handle it, according to business specialists.
- Start off by stating that you would like to establish some
guidelines on various issues. Then explain briefly and clearly the
behavioral changes you would like to see.
- Do not make the meeting personal or confrontational. It’s not,
“Tom, if you leave early again you’ll be sorry.” It’s “I’d like
every employee to be here from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., unless
- Do not have a debate. If employees have objections, listen
courteously and promise to consider them. If the objections seem
reasonable, change the policy.
- The new policies must be applied fairly and evenhandedly. That
can be especially difficult in the kind of family businesses that
are typical among kitchen and bath dealerships. Family members in a
family business tend to take special privileges as a matter of
course. Furthermore, non-family employees tend to feel they are
permanently out of favor, and thus justified in getting away with
whatever they can.
Family members must understand that they must obey rules more
stringently than non-family employees for the overall good of the
business. If they cannot grasp that, perhaps they should not be
involved in the business.
- If problems persist, talk to the problem employee, and explain
what’s wrong and what changes must occur. Again, do not turn this
into a personal attack or confrontation. Be calm and dispassionate.
Focus on the expected results.
- If the employee does not improve, speak to him again. This
time, have two copies of a written statement listing what changes
in behavior you expect to see. Have him sign both copies. Keep one
for your records and give him the other. Make sure the employee
agrees to change his behavior and can repeat the reason why he
should. If he does not see any reason to change the behavior, he
won’t. He must at least understand what is expected and