Building a Culture of Employee Discipline

employee discipline business slide

If you really want a workplace infused with employee discipline, you must establish a culture of discipline throughout your entire organization.

Discipline starts with you. It's been said "good" is the enemy of "great." Nowhere is this more apparent than in businesses.

Like most leaders in QA, you look for an effective way to encourage productivity in your employees. When you find a method that works you may rest on your laurels and call it "good enough." This "good enough" syndrome becomes the enemy of great leadership.

Building a culture of discipline means taking what works, and honing it till it's razor sharp. Then systematize the process and distribute it to every employee.

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Dan Kennedy calls this "the program" as in "getting with the program."

Your business has no room for fence sitters

Your employees need to be completely engaged with their responsibility to help build a great team and organization.

As their leader, you must recruit and retain disciplined people prior to coming to work for you. With these employees you can reinforce the guiding principles they already live by, but no employer can change a bad employee's basic nature.

The Curse of Knowledge

Simply building employee discipline cannot be the endpoint, only the beginning.

Disciplined employees do what needs to be done. But the fact is, most managers aren't sure what to do. This is the fault of management.

They assume their employees know as much about the business as they do. Assumptions about what people know, the "curse of knowledge" is deadly for the manager.

In Stephen Covey's book "The 8th Habit" he describes a poll of 23,000 employees from several different companies. Only 37% of the employees had a clear concept of their organizations goals. Shockingly, only 20% could describe the relationship between their job and the mission of their company.

Not just a simple lack of employee discipline, undisciplined organizations lose focus of their primary objective. And they take thousands of employees along for the ride!

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Your Policy Of Tolerance

As a leader in the business of managing employees, you create the disciplined culture you want your employees to emulate.

Dan Kennedy talks about going into a deli and seeing one of the countertops covered in dust. He says his policy for this business "the discovery of dust would be followed closely by beheadings. . . let a little dust. . . slide and you establish a direction. A policy of tolerance."

Kennedy says you cannot tolerate anything contributing to negative word of mouth about you or your business. Keeping this firmly in mind helps you establish a culture of employee discipline.

You must hold your team members and yourself accountable for undisciplined actions.

If you manage people, you must devise a system to organize assignments and responsibilities, and a method for hold each person accountable for the results.

As you develop a system that works, train your team on how to use the system. Ask for feedback on how to make the system better, but don't let your employees pick and choose which parts of the system they use.

You should establish a process to ensure people follow the system and of course hold them accountable.

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Employee Discipline Vs. Perfection

There is a point where establishing discipline becomes perfectionism. Perfectionism causes paralysis, especially in business. We want action, but we want disciplined action.

McDonalds succeeds as an organization but their food is far from perfect. 

Because they know and serve the needs and wants of their customers. They maintain a discipline of serving exactly what their customers want: mediocre food, on the go, fast.

Shape your team based on the needs of your customer, then maintain a culture of discipline rooted in your clearly defined system and standards.

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