Rethink Your Idea of Discipline

6 min

Discipline isn't just about punishment. It's about creating an environment where employees do their best work.

For example, on a construction site discipline could mean workers reporting for their shifts on time with all necessary safety gear so that they can work safely and efficiently.

On the other hand, in a restaurant discipline could mean meeting a specific dress code and maintaining customer etiquette so that patrons are satisfied with their dining experience.

In both of these scenarios the focus of discipline is not on the rules or the consequences of violating those rules.

Discipline starts with focusing on your team’s ability to reach goals and determining what conditions are necessary to get there.

When something violates this ability to reach goals a lapse in discipline occurs.

If someone on the construction site forgets to wear their safety gear, they open themselves up to serious injury. This makes it difficult to work safely, so disciplinary action is in place to prevent unsafe working conditions.

Established rules and policies can enforce expectations clearly and remove obstacles to help ensure a group can meet their goals.

Time for a quiz.

Keisha has been tasked with updating the employee discipline policies for her company, but she’s unsure what exactly this entails. What should you explain to her?

Quiz 1 of 1

What should you explain to Keisha about updating employee discipline policies?

She needs to set consequences for employees who frequently break the rules.
She needs to set the employee dress code so that everyone feels like they belong.
She needs to set the policies on workplace safety so that no one gets hurt.
She needs to set guidelines that enable employees to perform their jobs effectively.

The correct answer is D: She needs to set guidelines that enable employees to perform their jobs effectively.

All the other choices are aspects of discipline, but only D encompasses the idea that discipline allows workers to do their jobs safely and effectively.


What is a rule that gets violated often in your workplace? Is it in service of helping your team do the best work they possibly can? If not, tweak it to help your team achieve their best.

Lesson complete

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