DISCIPLINE - CORRECTIVE ACTION
Professor Bruce Fortado
University of North Florida
There is no discipline in many settings.
Supervisors have a million excuses: such as, a lack of
training in how to carry it out, supervisors fear they will not be backed up, superiors may say
"no one else is doing it, why should I?," managers may be doing the same things (a lack of clean
hands), supervisors may fear damaging friendships, valuable time is lost, emotional scenes may
erupt (temper tantrums, arguments, etc.), and attitudes may exist like "The employee already
knows he/she did the wrong thing, why beat him/her up?"
Delayed reactions normally result in mounting frustrations.
This makes overreaction
later quite likely.
At that time, the supervisor may be "out to get the ___ ____ ____."
vendettas, while understandable, seriously damage morale.
When an employee violates a rule or order, are we interested in preventing a future
repetition, punishing the violation, or both?
Can neat distinctions be drawn here?
We need to
consider both the power/control and behavioral implications.
Perhaps one can get away without following the proper procedures based on the legal
concept of “employment at will.”
However, if you learn proper procedure, you will not have to
worry about unemployment hearings, EEO charges, union grievances or unjust discharge suits.
BASIC DISCIPLINARY PRINCIPLES
Employees must be informed about what is expected
-written rules and procedures
-well known social standards (theft, violence, etc.)
Due process requires supervisors fully investigate before taking any disciplinary action
Guilt cannot be presumed from the story of one side.
One should not rush to judgment. An
investigation after the fact is unlikely to be objective (people tend to justify what they have
In severe cases (fear of violence, etc.), the accused can be suspended pending a final
The "hot stove principle" = Discipline should be immediate, consistent and impersonal
The "fairness principle" = Punishments should fit (a) the severity of the offense, and (b) the
(extenuating circumstances may be considered).
The known steps principle (the "slide rule principle") = The penalties for common
infractions (e.g. absenteeism and tardiness) should be quantified and publicized to enhance
predictability and remove supervisory judgment calls (i.e. potential inconsistencies)