Disciplinary is communication

SuarezBiteThe disciplinary process is a very difficult task to deliver and even more so to receive, but it’s often misconstrued.

Typically, you’d discipline those in your team by following a process something like this: verbal warning, written warning, second written warning and then final written warning before a concluding misdemeanour sends them down the road with a need to polish their CV.

What’s not heard very often in organisations, but is arguably the case in many an instance, is that performance that leads to a dismissal can often be the fault of management, not the employee. That sounds unlikely at first, but the boss, not the employee is often the reason ties needed to be severed. Don’t get me wrong, people doing stupid things and being ill-disciplined isn’t the direct fault of management (they’re adults aren’t they?) but it all falls on the responsibility of management’s shoulders.

Well, if the person isn’t capable of performing to the desired level, then they shouldn’t have been appointed to the role in the first instance (is that management’s fault in employing inappropriate talent?). Or, if they were capable but have since lost their mojo and are underperforming, then, again is it management’s issue for not preventing such a fatal slide in performance that ultimately needs a P45 to be drawn?

Your team will be well aware of how things should be done and training any obvious shortfalls will help fix skills gaps, so their capability isn’t usually the deal breaker. More likely is conduct, which of course stems from one’s attitude. Crude example: Liverpool’s Luis Suarez knows biting opponents isn’t the done thing on a football pitch. His manager doesn’t need to remind him of that in the dressing room, but he’s been caught doing a Hannibal twice. Capability isn’t in question here, but conduct certainly is. And, again, conduct stems from attitude.

The disciplinary process is arguably a communication tool first and foremost, not primarily a tool for removing people – which is often what those on the receiving end can feel. It’s usually trying to tell the person that they’ve stepped out of line or made a fundamental error (perhaps constantly or in one crucial instant) and that they really need to fix that. Dismissal is the straw that breaks the camel’s back for most managers who would much prefer the staff member to realise that results need to change and to get fully on-board with that.

Ignoring the human side, it’s simply not economically sound. Who would want to lose experienced, knowledgeable and capable people only to have to recruit and train others to fill the gap of those you’ve dismissed?

I guess you’d have to ask Brendan Rodgers for that.

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