Nature of discipline

Maintenance of discipline is a prerequisite to the attainment of maximum productivity, not only of the firm but also for the entire nation. It is only because of this that. After all everything is a matter of realisation! No amount of pressure can succeed in the long run unless one is committed to improve or learn.

True discipline is educational because it changes the very attitude of the workers towards their work and workplace. It must, therefore, be understood that discipline must be developed from within. Another important point that you should note here is that discipline has to be reformative and not punitive. We should aim at development rather than punishing. I am sure that you will adhere to something that is explained to you in a calm and matured way rather than that is ordered! According to Megginson, discipline involves the following three things.

    1. Self-discipline.

    2. Orderly behaviour.

    3. Punishment

Let us examine these terms: Self-discipline implies that a person brings the discipline in himself with a determination to achieve the goals that he has set for himself in life.

Orderly behaviour refers to discipline as a condition that must exist for an orderly behaviour in the organization.

Punishment is used to prevent indiscipline. When a worker goes astray in his conduct, he has to be punished for the same and the recurrences of it must be prevented.

Discipline can either be positive or negative.

1. Positive Discipline

Positive discipline involves creation of an atmosphere in the organisation whereby employees willingly conform to the established rules and regulations. Positive discipline can be achieved through rewards and effective leadership.

According to Spiegel, “Positive discipline does not replace reason but applies reason to the achievement of a common objective. Positive Discipline does not restrict the individual freedom but enables him to have a greater degree of self-expression in striving to achieve the group objective, which he identifies as his own.”

It means that positive Discipline is not that ideal that it can’t be achieved. It also does not imply that an individual’s freedom is restricted. Rather it provides better chances to an individual for expressing himself. The individual in this process, is able to bridge the gap between his and the group goals.

It is also to be noted that positive discipline promotes cooperating and coordination with a minimum of formal organization. It reduces the need for strict supervision required to maintain standards and observe rules and regulations. Everyone is answerable to oneself and therefore one is not answerable to anyone else.

2. Negative Discipline

Under negative discipline, penalties are used to force the workers to obey rules and regulations. In other words, workers try to adhere to rules and regulations out of fear of warnings, penalties and other forms of punishment. This approach to discipline is called negative or punitive approach.

This is an unfavorable state that subjects the employees to frustration, and consequently results in low morale. Let me ask you a question, how will you react if you are punished for a wrong act of yours? Will you welcome it? I am sure it would be much better that an environment is created where one does not commit any wrongful act. If at all there is some indiscipline, tit has to be handled in a calm and matured way.

There is another drawback related to negative discipline. An employee goes astray in his behaviour whenever there is a slightest possibility of escaping the punishment or when he believes that his action will go unnoticed.

Progressive and development oriented managers adopt a positive approach to discipline rather than negative approach. In the positive approach, attempts are made to educate the workers the values of discipline. The workers should be taught self-discipline. Disciplinary action should be taken only in exceptional circumstances where no other alternative is left. Disciplinary action should always incorporate consideration of just cause and due process.

Some of the symptoms of general indiscipline can be:

    • Absence from work

    • Absenteeism

    • Abusing customers

    • Abusive language toward supervisor

    • Assault and fighting among employees

    • Causing unsafe working conditions

    • Damage to or loss of machinery or materials Dishonesty

    • Disloyalty to employer (includes competing with employer, conflict of interest)

    • Falsifying company records (including time records, production records)

    • Falsifying employment application

    • Gambling

    • Horseplay

    • Incompetence (including low productivity)

    • Insubordination

    • Leaving place of work (including quitting early)

    • Loafing

    • Misconduct during a strike

    • Negligence

    • Obscene or immoral conduct

    • Participation in a prohibited strike

    • Possession or use of drugs or intoxicants

    • Profane or abusive language (not toward supervisor)

    • Refusal to accept a job assignment

    • Refusal to work overtime

    • Sleeping on the job

    • Slowdown

    • Tardiness

    • Theft Threat to or assault of management representative