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Explain the principles of disciplining employees. What are the consequences of enforcing discipline without prior information?
From India, Chennai
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Labour Law & Hr Consultant
John Chiang
Nagarkar Vinayak L
Hr And Employee Relations Consultant
K C S Kutty
Labour Laws

Dinesh Divekar

Dear Balasubramanian,

What are the objectives of enforcing discipline? The objectives are:

a) Enforcing the principle of equality

b) Bringing uniformity in the execution of the systems and processes

c) To bring psychological pressure on the minds of employees on the importance of orderliness and timeliness

Discipline brings an organised way of working in one's personal life as well as professional life. Nevertheless, to control the deviation or to restore the laid down processes, sometimes a disciplinary action is required to be initiated. However, while doing so, there is no need to give a shock to the employee. It is important to follow the "Principles (or the steps) of Progressive Discipline".

While enforcing negative discipline, it is important to ensure that the deviant employee corrects his/her behaviour. Punishments are the means to make one realise the importance of adherence to the rules and regulations. However, while doing so his/her motivation level should not go down.

Enforcement of the negative discipline demands adopting coercive methods as well. However, coerciveness should also have limits and in a zeal to enforce discipline, employees should not be thrashed. It will send a wrong signal to other employees and they should not work constantly under fear.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Nagarkar Vinayak L

Dear colleague,

Organisations need to put in place effective and workable policies which help promote positive discipline first at workplace. Positive discipline aims at creating and encouraging willing acceptance for disciplined working. Positive discipline gets l reinforced and promoted when bosses themselves follow them and manifest regard for it everytime by setting example.

At the same time , a fair and equitable rules need to be put in place to deter infractions, habitual and deliberate with punishments in proportion to the gravity of the offence but with progressive higher quantum. It is to be ensured that the policies are made widely known and accessible, and have to be administered in transparent manner.

Here also the approach has to be to find out what went wrong and not who was wrong in order to fix the root cause and not the person. Through skilled counseling in privacy will enable bringing about mental change in the truant employee. Here also, what is sought is to " correct' the behaviour and not to ' 'punish ' the truant employee. Punitive approach becomes effective tool in cases of habitual or obstinate offender but has to be preferred as a last resort after couple of opportunities given to improve . But in fit cases, like in any surgery, the first time offenders need to be dealt with severally to deter potential offenders.


Vinayak Nagarkar

HR and Employee Relations Consultant

From India, Mumbai

Dear Balasubramaniam,

The replies of the above two learned friends inspire me also to join the discussion.

So far as I am able to understand that in general discipline is an individual's state of mind reflected through his/her conduct in the social set up within which he/she lives. In other words, it is doing only what is prescribed as well as refrain from doing what all others which are prohibited. That's how the rule of law takes precedence in the system of administration of justice.

Applying the same analogy to employment, discipline is the predetermined set of values to be reflected in the behaviour of the employees of an organization as its members.

Therefore, basically, discipline is the positive aspect of employment and every employee is expected to observe the rules of discipline on his own. However, since no one is infallible at all times, the need to lay down the rules of discipline and the consequences of their transgression becomes inevitable. At the same time, as the zone of employment occupies only a limited space in an employee's life, the employer cannot do the kind of moral policing all the time. Hence the necessity for defining misconduct, its classification and the negative consequences to be faced arises in the realm of employment. That's one of the objectives behind the framing of service regulations or the laws like the Industrial Employment ( Standing Orders ) Act,1946 as the case be.

At the same time, it is irrefutable that disciplining the employees has its own negative connotations. Thus enters the application of the Principles of Natural Justice on the act of disciplining misconduct.

Excess of enthusiasm, at times, becomes an inherent aspect of power to control in tune with the saying " Power corrupts man and absolute power corrupts absolutely ". That's where the concept of proportionality of punishment to the gravity of misconduct comes into play in disciplinary proceedings. It is always important that what is punished as a deterrent is only the act of misconduct and not the individual.

From India, Salem

Dear Colleagues,

Absolutely agree to the principle of having discipline in both Personal and Professional fronts. It works as a silent disguise in building-up your persona as well as a professional character.

However, ensuring effective discipline takes a good amount of energy and is a gradual process as Human Beings are different and they show multiple reactions in various conditions.

I believe the principle of "5E" will be a great tool in ensuring discipline at workplaces. In major corporations it has brought about significant results & motivation.

5E - Engage, Enable, Empower, Execute & Evaluate

Engage - Select the right person with the right skill-sets or train them to gain adequate skillsets

Enable - Enable them the support & tools to perform

Empower - Empower them to take control of people and situations. Make them a part in Decision-Making.

Execute - Give them projects to execute independently or in teams.

Evaluate - Do periodic evaluations and give proper feedback.

It is an way to bring about discipline and transformation.

Thanks; hopefully you all like it.

Nihar Ranjan Panigrahi

HR Professional

From India, Indore
K C S Kutty

In which industry you are now working ?
From India, Madras
John Chiang

With capable leadership and an understanding of personnel policies, most employees work responsibly and productively. Nevertheless, reasonable standards of conduct remain necessary to provide a common understanding, to protect the rights and well-being of each employee and to ensure the orderly conduct of the Company 's business as well as the security of its assets.

The discipline policies that are set forth in the Code of Conduct. In Company Employee Manual are intended as a uniform basic for these standards. However. the Company must, in the last analysis, depend upon the judgment of the individual to act and work with integrity and the highest business ethics.

Since it is the employees who are the source of this favorable reputation, it is vital that we maintain the highest standards of conduct in all activities. These Employees Conduct and Discipline standards must be such as to avoid even the appearance of impropriety to those with whom we deal and to the public at large. To help implement this policy, Company has to be adopted the Policy Guide for Business Conduct. Copies must be available from the HR Department.

Employee may, depending upon the position he/she holds, be required to complete a Business Conduct Certificate. Employee will be informed if this practice applies to him/her.

Best regards to all CiteHR Members,

John Chiang

From China, Shanghai
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