Answer to Question #29320 in Management for NAMITA JHA

Question #29320
Ms. Swapna is the HR Manager of ABC Pvt Ltd. She wants to ensure that employee discipline is well maintained. What are the important principles that have to be observed in the maintenance of discipline?
(10 marks)
Expert's answer

Maintenance of harmonious human relations in an organization depends upon the promotion and maintenance of employee discipline. No organization can prosper without employee discipline. Discipline has been a matter of utmost concern for all organizations. Maintenance of effective discipline in an organization ensures the most economical and optimum utilization of various resources including human resources. Thus, the objective of discipline in an organization is to increase and maintain business efficiency. Effective discipline is a sign of sound human and industrial relations and organizational health.
The different approaches to employee discipline include, (i) human relations approach, (ii) human resources approach, (iii) group discipline approach, (iv) the leadership approach, and (v) judicial approach.

Important Principles of disciplinary action towards employees are listed below:

1. Announce disciplinary policy with advance warning. Management should consistently follow an announced disciplinary policy. An executive is in an unassailable position if the record shows that his action was based on established facts, that he has made a genuine effort to help the wrong-doer, given ample advance warning and finally put a hardened offender a notice that his unsatisfactory behaviour would no longer be tolerated.

2. Consistency. If two men commit the same offence and one man is more severely disciplined than the other, naturally there will be cries of favouritism. Supervisors lose the respect of its subordinates if they impose discipline in a whimsical and inconsistent manner. Consistent discipline is fair and is far more likely to be accepted by the workers involved.

3. Impersonality. It is very difficult to impose discipline without causing the person disciplined to feel resentful and aggressive. But the supervisor can minimise the danger by imposing discipline in the most impersonal way. ‘Discipline is most effective and has least negative effect on individuals, if the individual feels that his behaviour at the particular moment is the only thing being criticized and not his total personality.’

4. Give employee an opportunity to explain. Disciplinary action should not be taken without giving the employee an opportunity to explain his actions. This is an important part of the supervisor’s investigation. If he gives an explanation it should be investigated to find out whether what he says is true.

5. Decide what action to take. The supervisor must know the principles of “Corrective Discipline.” It means the purpose of discipline is to correct improper conduct. It should not be punitive in nature; it should not be used solely for the purpose of punishment. Discharge is a disciplinary action which is not corrective in nature. So discharge should be resorted to only when previous efforts to bring about correction have failed.

6. Disciplinary action as a tool. An executive must consider disciplinary action as a tool and not as a weapon of supervision. He should see reprimands and penalties in the same light as brakes on a car. They ‘slow down’ employees when needed, they act as preventive measures but they cannot cure an accident. Therefore, when a penalty is applied, it should be in the manner of using a tool and not as a threatening gesture.

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