Principles in Administering Discipline

The human resource manager should follow some guidelines in the administration of disciplinary action. They are:

1. Disciplinary action is to be corrective rather than punitive: The objective of disciplinary action is to correct an employee’s undesirable behavior, not to deal out punishment. While punishment may be a necessary means to that end, one should never lose sight of the eventual objective.

2. Disciplinary action should be progressive: Typically, progressive disciplinary action begins with an oral warning and proceeds through a written warning, suspension, and, only in the most serious cases, dismissal. This will provide the incumbent with a chance of correction and also an scope of improvement in motivation.

3. “Hot Stove Rule” is to be followed: Administering discipline can be viewed as analogous to touching a hot stove. This principle, if followed properly, will ensure the reaping of a few advantages which are as under:

a. Provides warning: It is very important to provide advance warning that punishment will follow unacceptable behavior. As you move closer to a hot stove you are warned by its heat that you will be burned if you touch it.

b. Burns immediately: If disciplinary action is to be taken, it must occur immediately so that the individual will understand the reason for it. With the passage of time people have the tendency to convince themselves that they are not at fault.

c. Burns impersonally: Disciplinary action should be impersonal. There are no favorites when this approach is followed.

d. Gives consistent punishment: Disciplinary action should also be consistent in that everyone who performs the same act will be punished uniformly. As with a hot stove, each person who touches it is burned consistently.

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