Employees are expected to act in a responsible manner and perform their duties as expected. It is the supervisor's role to define and communicate expectations for employees, provide the appropriate tools and support, and act fairly and in a timely fashion when those expectations are not being met. As the employer, it is the supervisor's responsibility to instil in employees the desire and means to willingly adhere to the prescribed conduct or pattern of behaviour. This can be achieved through training, coaching, counselling, mentoring and setting a good example.
It is only when these approaches fail that disciplinary action becomes necessary. Discipline is only for culpable behaviour. Culpable behaviour is when the employee knows the rules and expectations and is capable of meeting them, but chooses not to. Discipline often has a negative connotation, but in the labour relations context discipline is more about teaching or moulding. Its purpose is not punitive, but to correct the lapse of conduct and return the employee to the desired standard of conduct. It's more appropriate to refer to discipline as corrective action in a labour relations context.
As a supervisor, your task is to help employees to understand what is expected of them and to assist them to meet defined standards of attendance, performance and behaviour.
If teaching and moulding are unsuccessful in achieving the desired behaviour, corrective action may be necessary to make it clear that the behaviour is required. Corrective action can also act as a deterrent, preventing other employees from engaging in similar misconduct.
No matter how busy you are, there are no shortcuts in discipline. The first step is to ensure you fully understand the situation, and the second step is to seek advice from a human resources advisor. Not handling disciplinary issues properly could result in:
In the end, if the conduct is not addressed, the original intent of the corrective or disciplinary action is lost and the employee relationship does not improve. For this reason, it is critical that you work directly with a human resources advisor to determine the right course of action.