Factors necessary for effective disciplinary system



Discipline is the key to success. Theodore Roosevelt has said “With self-discipline almost everything is possible”. Self discipline makes employee realize what is required at work. Discipline can be positively related to performance. It is the bridge between goals and accomplishments. Effective discipline should be aimed at the behavior, and not at the employee personality. This is because the reason for discipline is to improve performance rather than punishing the employee.

Factors necessary for effective disciplinary system include:
  • Training of supervisors is necessary: Power of executing  discipline must be in the hands of trained persons so as to ensure make proper use of Power on the offenders only, but not on innocents. That is a reason why Supervisors and mangers need to be trained on when and how discipline should be used. It is necessary to provide training on counseling skills as these skills are used while dealing with problem employees. Moreover, it should be ensured that discipline decisions taken by trained superiors must be considered fair and unbiased  by both employees and managers so as to build up respect towards a system which will help in developing healthy industrial relationships.
  • Centralization of discipline: No one is above the law, whosoever is equal before the law and the punishment is same  to whosoever. likewise, organisations should also implement same principle, which is being applied in the rule of law.Centralized means that the discipline decisions should be uniform throughout the organization.The greater the uniformity, higher will be the effectiveness of discipline procedure.

  • Impersonal discipline: Discipline should be handled impersonally. Managers should try to minimize the ill feelings arising out of the decisions by judging the offensive behavior and not by judging the person. Managers should limit their emotional involvement in the disciplinary sessions.

  • Review discipline decisions: The disciplinary decisions must be reviewed before being implemented. This will ensure uniformity and fairness of the system and will minimize the arbitrariness of the disciplinary system.

  • Notification of conduct that may result in discipline: Actions that lead to misconduct can be listed and documented so the employees are aware of such actions. This will unable them to claim that they have not been notified, in advance, regarding the same.

  • Information regarding penalties: The employer should define the penalties and other actions like warnings, reprimands, discharge and dismissal well in advance. All these action plans must be communicated to the employees.

  • Discipline shall be progressive: Discipline system should be progressive in nature. In a progressive discipline approach the severity of actions to modify behavior increases with every step as the employee continues to show improper behavior. The advantage of this approach is that employees can’t take it for granted.

  • Documentation: Effective discipline requires accurate, written record keeping and written notification to the employees. Thus less chance will be left for the employee to say the he “did not know” about the policy.

  • Discipline should be fair: The disciplinary decision should be fair enough for the employee. Both over-penalization and under-penalization are considered to be unfair for the problem employee. Moreover, an internal fairness is to be maintained, that is, two employees who have committed the same offense should be equally punished.

  • Discipline shall be flexible and consistent: The manager administering discipline must consider the effect of actions taken by other managers and of other actions taken in the past. Consistent discipline helps to set limits and informs people about what they can and cannot do. Inconsistent discipline leads to confusion and uncertainty.

  • Disciplinary action should be prompt: The effective discipline should be immediate. The longer time lag between the misconduct offense and the disciplinary action will result in ineffectiveness of the discipline; besides it may give scope again to commit misconduct,which may create feeling of recklessness and negligence  in the minds of others over the organisation management and also may create feeling of levity among employees. 


Besides the above said factors. There are key tips should be followed scrupulously.

  1. Always document a verbal warning in writing immediately after it is given.
  2. Always deliver written warnings in person and document what was said in the writing immediately after the meeting.
  3. Interview the accused employee, tell them of the complaint and allow them to tell their side of the story.
  4. allow employees ( union or non-union ) to have a representative presented during their interview if requested.
  5. Interview other witnesses that may have knowledge of  events relating to the complaint.
  6. Consider having legal counsel conduct the investigation interviews.
  7. If the investigation concludes that disciplinary action is required, review the employees' disciplinary record.
  8. Review the discipline imposed in similar situations in the past.
  9. Balance the seriousness of the conduct with the employee's overall record to determine the appropriate discipline.
  10. Document the results of your investigation & the results for any disciplinary actions.
  11. In-case you decide to terminate an employee whose is accused of  serious indiscipline, take sufficient time to investigate & document the reasons for termination.