Discipline. Love it. In the context of achieving a goal, it's fantastically needed. To endeavor to lose weight, for example, requires discipline. It requires commitment, determination and resolve. I've been exercising forever. My mom says that when I was a toddler, I used to watch a show, "Exercise with Gloria," on our local Philadelphia station and would imitate the aerobic and stretching moves. I was committed to doing what she did - stance by stance, stretch by stretch. As adults, when we watch someone exercise discipline towards such a health-related goal, we are inspired.
So why does the use of the word "discipline" have to change when applied to correction? When I discipline one of my kids, which I hardly ever have to do because they rock (truth be told, they usually have to provide correction for their dad), I'd like to think I offer it as an encouragement towards excellence and validation of my commitment to their well-being. Of course, the relational aspect helps to bridge these intentions.
In the workplace, can we provide a similar position in how we administer discipline? Think about the goal of discipline at the workplace - it's to change behavior. Let's do Psych 101, shall we? Behavior modification is best achieved through a few steps at the workplace:
- Define the problem for the employee and allow the employee to ask questions for understanding
- Discuss practical ways to address the issue and allow for collaboration, when prudent, from the employee
- Ensure the active behavior changes are both initiative and reactive in usage (What will I do differently? - initiative; How will I respond differently in the next similar situation? - reactive)
- Hold the employee accountable for the agreed upon changes
Very simple and straight-forward, right? Well, the list may be, but the implementation will take more effort. For some of you, your companies already engage in this type of positive discipline, but for many, this represents a counter-culture method to the argumentative, vindictive or stoic nature of discipline currently in place. We know that long-term behavioral changes come with deeper connectivity to the issue at hand and to the solutions that will affect the desired change. Whether it's lateness or a problem with productivity, if we can provide discipline that outlines clearly the issue, the solution and the method to achieve it with collaborative understanding from the employee, it's a home run.
We get to be the ones who enact such change in approach to employee discipline. Don't wait for your boss, your managers or the world, for that matter, to change first. From a scientific and measurable way, we can show that approaching employee discipline from this angle will bring a marked difference. Discipline is not a scary word or activity. Now, strap on your Thigh Master while at work and get to it! Get motivated to change employee discipline!