Meaning of Discipline
Discipline refers to the systematic follow-up of rules and regulations by the employees in the inf of the organization. The employees perform their duties and responsibilities keeping the terms and conditions of the company in their mind, it shows that they are disciplined. One of the main functions of management is employee discipline. Disciplined employees are not only capable of facing the competition but can also result in higher productivity and industrial growth. Discipline motivates them to work in a coordinated manner and achieve the organisational objectives easily.
Definition of Discipline
According to Dale S. Beach, “Discipline regulates (by reward or penalty) human behaviour”.
According to Gary Dessler, “Discipline is a procedure that corrects or punishes a subordinate because a rule of the procedure has been violated”.
According to Richard D. Calhoon, “Discipline may be considered as a force that prompts individuals or groups to observe the rules, regulations and procedures which are deemed to be necessary for the effective functioning of an organisation”.
According to Jucius, “Discipline is said to be good when employees willingly follow the rules of their superiors and their company. Discipline is said to be bad when employees either follow rules unwillingly or disobey regulations (that necessitates correction action)”.
Nature of Discipline
The nature of discipline is as follows:-
1) Standard Behaviour: Every organisation sets certain objectives for the employees. To achieve these organisational goals, employees need to have a standard behaviour which can be acquired by following a specific code of conduct formulated by the organisation.
2) Motivating Force: Discipline acts as a motivating force because it encourages the employees to correct their mistakes or misconduct after anticipating the consequences they may face if they violate the discipline policy.
3) Positive or Negative in Nature: Discipline can be positive and negative. Following the rules and regulations of the organisation systematically will provide a positive response to the employees in the form of a reward. Whereas, violation of rules and regulations will hurt the future advancement of the employee.
4) Voluntary or Imposed: Discipline is of two types: voluntary or imposed. When an employee is self-disciplined, it is voluntary, as it is chosen by one’s own will. But when rules and regulations are imposed forcefully, it is called imposed or obligatory discipline.
5) Right of the Management: Implementing rules and regulations on the employees for the betterment of the organisation is the need as well as the right of the management. In case the code of conduct is unfair and unjust, then only the employees of the organisation can oppose it, otherwise, it is undeniable.
Objectives of Discipline
Objectives of discipline are as follows:
1) Achievement of Goals
Every organisation sets certain rules and regulations that are to be followed to achieve the desired objectives. The organisation maintains discipline among the employees so the organisational goals can be achieved easily. If employees are indisciplined, the organisation work efficiently and effectively. Thus, maximum efforts should be made by the management to maintain the discipline to achieve the organisational goals.
2) Makes Employees Responsible
Discipline is used by the organisation to avoid any kind of imp behaviour on the part of employees. If employees follow the set rules and regulations in a disciplined and systematic way, then they will be more responsible for performing their duties towards their organisation
3) Brings Desired Behavioural Changes in Employees
Discipline changes the behaviour of the employee Disciplined employees have a good tolerance level and can make adjustments easily to achieve the standards of the organisation. A constant check on the behaviour of the employees can be maintained through a proper discipline policy. Thus, if an effective discipline policy is created by an organisation, it can improve the low performers of the company to better performers and compel them to achieve the organisational goals.
4) Increases Employee Morale
When the employees of the company feel that their organisation has a fair discipline policy, they try to avoid any kind of misconduct or indiscipline. When an employee is given a punishment for his indiscipline, the other employees feel proud of not indulging in such behaviour. They avoid being involved in any kind of misconduct in the future. Thus, when an organisation follows a fair discipline policy, it not only boosts the morale of the employees to work hard but also warns them against the consequences they may face in response to a violation of the company’s code of conduct.
5) Controlling Employees
The main motive for creating a discipline policy for the employees is to have stronger control over them. Since higher authorities are entitled to take disciplinary action; hence, fear in the minds of the employees automatically arises and compels them to follow their instructions without any violation.
6) Maintaining Cordial Relations between Employees and Management
Disciplinary action against any employee often causes a lot of misunderstanding between the employees and the management. But spoiling the union-management relations is not the aim of the discipline policy. Thus, to gain and maintain the trust of employees and unions and to attain their cooperation, it is essential to have a fair discipline policy.
7) Minimises Cost of Supervision
Once the employees understand the importance of discipline, the requirement of closely supervising the performance and behaviour of the employees minimises, which further reduces the cost of supervision without affecting the results of the organisation.
8) Penalise Employees
Punishing the employees is the last approach by which an organisation can threaten certain undisciplined employees so that they do not violate any rules of the organisation again. If after warning many times, any employee does not follow the rules in that case, the company takes strict punitive action against that employee.
Principles of Discipline
Major principles of discipline are as follows:
Principle 1: Assume Nothing
An organisation should never assume that the disciplinary rules are known to every employee. The rules can be provided to every employee in written form or they can be displayed prominently. Formal and informal sessions can be organised frequently by the management to discuss these rules and regulations so that the new recruiters can become aware of these rules.
Principle 2: Discipline in Privacy
When disciplinary action is taken by the authority against any employee, already creates an embarrassing situation for that employee. But when the criticism is done in front of his colleagues. it develops a feeling of guilt and anger. Thus, the management should take action privately and not publicly.
Principle 3: Be Objective
Before taking any disciplinary action against any individual, all the facts should be considered carefully. Authority should not rely on the opinions given by others. All the facts should be examined and considered without any biasness. Authority should be very sure that the misconduct has taken place, what the degree of the misconduct and accordingly action must be taken.
Principle 4: Educate the Violator
Discipline must be meaningful and encouraging. The object of discipline is not to punish the violators but to bring a positive change in the violator’s behaviour. An individual working in an organisation must know what is right and wrong conduct. Thus, discipline should be a learning experience for the employees that contribute to personal as well as performance improvement.
Principle 5: Be Consistent
Nobody can accept inconsistent policies and rules. Rules should be followed by one and all. If the discipline policy is enforced on one employee but not on another, this will give rise to disputes creating misunderstandings between the employees and the management.
Principle 6: Do not Humiliate
The purpose of disciplinary action is to rectify the violator’s mistake and not to humiliate or hurt him. If the humiliation is done as a part of the discipline process, it will not only lower the morale of the violator but will also make him angry and revengeful. This will badly affect the future of both the violator as well as the organisation.
Principle 7: Maintaining Violation Records
Management must keep a record of both the good and bad conduct of each employee. A separate record for violations should also be maintained. This record is used at the time of termination of a particular employee or when the employee misbehaves or creates indiscipline even after several warnings. These records can also be used by counselling professionals to counsel indisciplined employees.
Principle 8: Prompt Action
If the violent behaviour is not corrected on time, it motivates the violator to commit such a mistake again in the future and may become a habit. With time, the violator will stop feeling guilty and finally forget what he has done. Thus, prompt action must be taken by the management to correct the violator. Disciplinary action taken after a long period will prove to be irrational and useless.
Types of Discipline
Types of employee discipline are as follows:
1) Positive Discipline
Positive discipline is the discipline that motivates the employees of the organisation to standardise their behaviour and achieve the organisational goals by following a proper code of conduct. It can also be called a self-imposed discipline. It is a constructive and effective force for appropriate business management. Positive disciplinary rules and regulations are quickly followed by the employees and help the employees to improve their performance.
According to Spriegel, “Positive discipline enables an employee to have a greater freedom in that he enjoys a greater degree of self-expression in striving to achieve the group objective, which he identifies as his own”.
2) Negative Discipline
Sometimes certain employees do not feel like following the rules and regulations of the organisation. They view complying with rules and regulations to be negative. It is a very general approach towards the discipline. In such cases, disciplinary policies are enforced on the employees. Sometimes undisciplined employees are warned and even punished for not obeying the rules and regulations.
According to Spriegel, “Negative discipline is the force that prompts an individual or a group to observe the rules, regulations and procedures which are deemed to be necessary to the attainment of an objective”.
3) Progressive Discipline
The best way to maintain discipline among the employees is the adoption of a progressive discipline policy. This policy involves a systematic way of dealing with the indiscipline problems created by the employees.
According to this disciplinary policy, an organisation should take mild disciplinary actions at the initial stages and then move on to more severe punishments. For example, if an employee creates indiscipline in any form, first he should be given a verbal warning. If he does not rectify his mistake, a charge sheet can be given to him. Further, if he continues with his disciplinary behaviour, he can be suspended and finally terminated.
A progressive discipline stays with the employee for his whole career period, i.e., from the date of joining till his retirement from the organisation. Progressive discipline not only raises the employee to a higher level but can also result in his dismissal. In other words, it can be said that progressive discipline not only rewards an employee but can also punish him.
Approaches to Manage Discipline
There are several approaches to managing discipline in organisations. Some of them are as follows;
1) Judicial Approach
As per the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders), 1946, an organisation formulated standing orders. The act was passed to improve employee-employer relations. The standing orders should clearly define service rules and the employment conditions of the employees. As per this law, certain duties and responsibilities are to be followed by the employer as well as the employees. The rules under this Act include the categorisation of employees, working hours, holidays, attendance, leaves, suspension procedure, termination policy, etc. Violation of any of these rules by any organisation may lead to misconduct.
2) Human Relations Approach
This approach considers individuals as human beings. The overall personality of the individual is considered under this approach. The way an employee behaves with his co-workers, his seniors, his past performances, etc., must be considered before taking any disciplinary action Sometimes, situations arise that mislead a human being forcing him to behave in an indisciplined manner. In such cases, a suitable punishment for misconduct is awarded. In fact, in such cases, the organisation should help that employee by understanding his problem rather than punishing him harshly.
3) Human Resources Approach
Every employee is considered to be a resource and an asset to the organisation. Before taking any disciplinary action, the cause for indiscipline should be made very clear. Sometimes indiscipline occurs due to lack of training and sometimes it is due to lack of motivation. In such cases, actions as per the situation demand.
The disciplinary authority can prefer any of the two solutions: firstly, if the violation is not so serious then let the offender continue with his work so that there is no risk to the organisation’s functioning. Secondly, if the violator’s behaviour can be corrected by taking minor disciplinary action, then the corrective step should be taken as soon as possible. In such cases, an organisation can train and motivate the offender to work as per the organisational needs.
4) Group Discipline Approach
Under this approach, management tries to make a group that is ready to accept the norms and conditions of the organisation as their norms and conditions. These norms should be well established. Once the group starts supervising the discipline among the employees working with them, it will become much easier for the organisation to maintain discipline among the other employees. For example, a group of trade union workers can handle its members more easily than the management.
5) Leadership Approach
The manager who has been given the responsibility of supervising the discipline must have leadership qualities. He has to maintain discipline in all the employees under him and thus should have a quality of controlling, training, developing and leading the employees. Employees will obey him and listen to what he has to say only if he is disciplined and behaves properly with his subordinates.
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