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  • Ian Gregory


Most leaders we teach shrink from this word. Why? It is a vital and dynamic part of any business and yet it is dreaded. How did this come to be? Maybe because it has become associated with punishment? Look up the word and usually the first definition says or contains the words punishment in it. I found one where the second definition said instruction, but it was prefaced with the word obsolete. Really? Let's start at the beginning and agree on two things in the workplace:

  1. EVERY employee should have a complete understanding of what is expected of them including rules, regs, day to day tasks, etc.

  2. EVERY employee should have a complete understanding of what will happen to them should they not live up to those standards.

The word discipline has the root word disciple in it which means teacher or trainer. Your disciplinary program should be based on those premises, that human beings are imperfect and require periodic re-teaching or re-training. We are not suggesting that you allow poor performance or sub standard behavior to rule the day while you try to be everyone’s friend, quite the contrary. We insist that you search out the malcontents and true 10 percenters and get rid of them post haste. What we are suggesting is that the vast majority of your personnel that require discipline are good people, wanting to do a good job and are frustrated because you have not lived up to one or both of the two rules above. Any business needs customers. What that means for you is that we are all in the customer loyalty business, which is a different ballgame from the customer satisfaction business and your personnel should know the difference. The largest part of your disciplinary program should be involved in teaching and training why that difference is of paramount importance so that the largest part of the program is not punishment. As an example: You hand out customer surveys based on 1-5 to see what customers think of you. Anything less than a 5 should be unacceptable. 1 or 2 for obvious reasons, 3 and 4 say you are average and anyone can do what you do. Only a 5 will produce the customer loyalty that you should be chasing. Feel free to look it up, from Gallup to Harvard Business Review, you should be regularly monitoring your customers and getting everyone in your organization to help you chase the 5. Ok so how does it look now? Should it be progressive, meaning there should be chances for an employee to learn and correct their behavior? Absolutely. Just bottom line your program with this: Be consistent and specific when applying the two rules of the workplace (we did agree on them remember?), then start it with education, carry it with teaching and training and point it toward customer LOYALTY.


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