Disciplined Working of the Employees

Disciplined Working of the Employees

The concept of discipline is as old as man’s desire to form society. In fact, discipline is the pre-requisite of civilized life. It is indispensable for a peaceful and orderly social life. It is also being said that the wise men preach discipline while great men practice it. While describing discipline, it is frequently said that ‘nothing left loose ever does anything creative. No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No steam ever drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is channeled. No man ever grows until he is disciplined’.

Discipline is one of the basic requirements in a person’s life. The strength of a person is mainly dependent on discipline. It is a part of a standard way of living. A person without discipline can achieve nothing worthwhile in the life. Discipline is the very condition of progress, stability and strength. Discipline is necessary in all walks of human life. It is essential not only for the success of general life of a person but also for the progress and success of an organization.

The employees in an organization normally have strengths and the ability to thrive. Positive developmental outcomes occur when the needs and strengths of the employees align with the assets and supports present in their environments, creating what is called a supportive system (Fig 1). The supportive system perspective of the organization is predicated on the notion that all the employees can succeed, and they have a wealth of assets to be nurtured and supported. This runs counter to the notion that the employees primarily have deficits which are required to be removed. From this perspective, the employee behaviour is not simply the result of a problem within the system, but it can be better understood as an indication of a misalignment between the strengths and capacities of the employees and the demands or expectations of their work surroundings in the organization.

Fig 1 Supportive system

Historically, organizational discipline practices have operated on a deterrence model of behaviour management, seeking to motivate compliant behaviour through the fear of punishment. Frequently, these punishments take the form of suspending the employee or even removing the employee from the service. Such practices contribute to a system which deprives employees of opportunities to connect with their organization and the people in them. Suspension and removing from service can lead to social isolation and a lack of adult supervision and support, leaving the employees without the resources to learn from their mistakes and the organizational management without the opportunity to learn how to better support the employees.

Exclusionary discipline in particular forces several employees off track, leading them to further disengage from their work and threatening their ability to succeed in their profession as well as in their life. A number of studies have increasingly demonstrated the detrimental impact of exclusion on organizational and employees outcomes. Hence organizational management is required to seek ways for organizational discipline policy and practices to be more rooted in understanding the needs and experiences of the employees.

Discipline is an aspect of behaviour. It involves in using of sound methods with consistency. Disciplined working is needed most wherever human error can cause harm, substantial inconvenience, or expense. Disciplined working is designed to reduce / eliminate human errors, prevent common mistakes and improve consistency in the work. It also improves efficiency, saves time, and even facilitates creativity.

Disciplined working by the employees in the organization occur when they follow organizational rules, which are official instructions in respect of what employees have to and are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do. In the organization, rules serve about the same purpose which the laws do in society and disciplining is called for when one of these rules is violated. A set of clear rules is an integral part of a fair and just disciplinary system. Rules are to be established in line with the organizational goals and objectives.

Rules are framed to contribute directly or indirectly to the organizational productivity and then to the accomplishment of the organizational goals or objectives. The behavioural rules are normally classified into two major categories namely (i) rules directly related to the productivity, and (ii) rules indirectly related to the productivity. All the rules are important since they affect job effectiveness directly or indirectly, organizational productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. It is important to develop reasonable rules of behaviour. Organizational climate conditions are to be such that rules are capable of their following by th employees.

The set of rules for the disciplined working are made with the help of knowledge and experience gained over a period of time and following of the basic laws and practices established either with the help of scientific principles or by analysing vast data collected over a period of time. The basic laws and practices are normally time tested and are generally accepted by all. This does not mean that the laws and practices cannot be revised. In fact small revisions go on taking place on its own on a continuous basis, without people noticing it. The accumulation of these small revisions becomes quite big over a period of time.

Every organization is made up of employees who work collaboratively and interdependently to ensure that the organizational targets are met. There is a sort of daily interaction among employees in order to carry out their job responsibilities and contribute their quota to the organization. However, employees have different interests, ambitions, orientations, and focus. These are most likely to result into conflict due to the divergence in interests. Due to the conflicting interests and the possessive attitude of the employees, there is a tendency for behavioural attitudes which deviate from the established rules and regulations of the organization.

A reasonable level of predictable behaviour is expected from the employees for the accomplishment of organizational objectives. However, one of the ways for ensuring order and compliance with the established rules in the organization is to have discipline in the organization. The lack of adequate discipline measures in the organization spurs ineffectiveness and ineptitude in the organization which has severe deteriorating effect on the organizational performance. Effective discipline enables the organization to accomplish its goals cost-effectively.

An undisciplined organization is an ineffective organization. Employees of such organization waste their best efforts to the organization when things are not properly put in place. Discipline has been recognized as a powerful tool which can be deployed to address the ineffectiveness of the organization. Employee discipline is pivotal to the daily operations of the organization if it is to achieve its stated goals and objectives.

In the simplest term, discipline refers to the orderly behaviour shown by the employees. It equally refers to the behaviour which is in line with established rules and regulations. In management parlance, employee discipline implies that employees adhere to the rules and regulations established by the organization for appropriate behaviour. Discipline is also viewed as a form of behaviour traceable to a particular training. It is frequently being referred to observance and total compliance to the rules and regulations of a society, community or organization.

Discipline is defined as a force which prompts the employees to observe rules, regulations, systems, processes, and procedures which are considered to be necessary for the effective functioning of the organization. It is also defined as an activity which involves acting in accordance with a set of known rules, proven guidelines, and conventions framed for the purpose. It is basically an attitude of the mind which is a product of culture and environment. Discipline refers to the regulation of behaviour of the organizational employees involving rules which govern their goal orientation and behaviour inside and outside the organization. The Australian Institute of Management views discipline as appropriate behaviour exuded by members of a group in tandem with the mission and vision of such a group.

Robbins has defined that the term ‘discipline’ refers to a condition in the organization when employees conduct themselves in accordance with the organizational rules and standards of acceptable behaviour. Discipline consists of the practice of making people obey strict rules of behaviour and of punishing them when they do not obey them. Werther and Davis define discipline as management action to encourage compliance with organizational standards. Mathis and Jackson define discipline as a form of training which enforces organizational rules. Richard D. Calhoon define discipline as a force which prompts individuals or groups to observe the rules, regulations, and procedures which are deemed to be necessary for the effective functioning of the organization. In the opinion of Ordway Tead, ‘discipline is the order, members of a group who adhere to its necessary regulations because they desire to cooperate harmoniously in forwarding the end which the group has in view’.

Based on the above definitions the term ‘discipline’ involves (i) a condition where employees conduct themselves in accordance with rules and standards of acceptable behaviour, (ii) making employees obey rules of behaviour, (iii) punishing employees when they do not obey rules of behaviour, (iv) managerial action encouraging employees to comply with standards of the organization, and (v) a form of training to enforce organizational rules.

Employee discipline has three peculiar characteristics. Firstly, employee discipline is an act of self-control. It refers to the personal efforts at self-control to adhere to the stated procedures and regulations of the organization in order to ensure that organizational goals are accomplished. Secondly, employee discipline is a negative approach. This implies that discipline motivates individuals to embark on certain activities, and on the other hand, it equally discourages employees from carrying out some activities. Lastly, employee discipline is a punitive approach. This implies that discipline brings about punishment on employees if they disregard the established rules and regulations of the organization.

A disciplined employee is an organized employee and an organized employee is disciplined always. Employee discipline can be referred to a force which promotes individuals and groups to observe the rules, regulations, and procedures of the organization which is necessary to achieve organizational goals and objectives.  It is a condition in which employees perform organizational activities with a consistent behaviour. In other words, it is said that discipline avoids disorder, irregularity, and confusion. It is a condition in the organization because of which employees perform their activities in accordance with organizational rules and regulations. Through disciplined actions, employees confirm with what is considered proper behaviour. It means the employees conform to organizational rules and regulations framed by the organization as acceptable behaviour.

Employee discipline is a procedure which helps to correct or to punish the employees so that they conduct activities to within an acceptable manner. In short, discipline implies obedience, orderliness, and maintenance of proper subordination among employees. It is a tool which the line managers can rely on to communicates organizational behaviours to the employees. Thus, discipline can now be defined as a condition in the organization when employees conduct themselves in accordance with the organizational rules and standards of acceptable behaviour.

Every organization has goals and objectives to be achieved. In order to achieve the organizational goals and objectives, proper employee discipline is of immense importance. It is necessary that all the employees in the organization adhere to the rules about work behaviour. The basic purpose of discipline is to encourage employees to behave sensibly at work, where ‘sensible behaviour’ is defined as adhering to the rules. Rules refer to official instructions in respect of what employees must and are allowed to do and what employees are not allowed to do. Here the term ‘rules’ has a broad meaning which includes essential job performance standards, standards of conduct and attendance, regulations, policies, and procedures to be followed in carrying out various organizational activities. In general regulations are made to protect the organizations from indiscipline behaviour of the employees.

Employee discipline management is a very important function of human resource management. It is defined as a systematic process of controlling and influencing all the employees in the organization to achieve and maintain standards of behaviour (rules of behaviour, alternatively the code of behaviour at work) in order to accomplish organizational goals and objectives. It is viewed as formulation, implementation, and on-going maintenance of a fair and constructive discipline system for controlling human behaviour. It involves regularization of employees’ behaviour in compliance with established rules in order to achieve desired goals of the organization

Importance of employee discipline

The employees are of different kinds and they come from different background, cultures, and experiences with different norms, values, and cultures. Hence, if they behave differently, the organizational objectives remain far beyond from target of achievement. Discipline means behaving in a right and desired manner. It means regulations or conditions imposed on employees by management in order to correct or prevent behaviours which are counter-productive to the organization. It implies orderly and acceptable behaviour by the employees of the organization which means systematically conducting of the organizational operations by the employees who strictly adhere to the essential rules and regulations.

Discipline is normally described as doing the right thing, the right way, every time. This is much easier said than done. In a simpler situation when work activities are more straightforward and linkages are fewer and better understood, it is easier to ensure that the employees do the right thing, the right way, every time. But in the complex environments which exist in the present day environment, it is impossible to anticipate every situation employees are faced with and understand all of the complex linkages which can impact their work. Hence, instead of trying to develop a prescriptive list of activities to help employees do the right thing, the right way, every time, a far more effective approach is to build a specific and robust set of values, or principles known as the ‘pillars of discipline’ to govern actions and behaviours no matter the situations encountered.

One of the most powerful aspects of the discipline is that it drives employees to understand not just what they do, but why they do it. The biggest obstacle for achieving excellence is not that the rights tasks, activities, and processes are not identified, but that work is looked at as ‘checking-the-box’ with no underlying system to tie everything together and little appreciation for the unanticipated. In fact, in complex environments it takes a purposeful effort to be able to count on employees to do the right thing, the right way, every time. Building a culture around the pillars of discipline (Fig 2) is the most effective way toward achieving this goal, especially in a complex environment.

                                Fig 2 Pillars of discipline

Discipline means securing consistent behaviour in accordance with the accepted norms of behaviour and it is essential to a democratic way of life. Proper administration of discipline results in willing cooperation and observance of the rules established to achieve organizational goals and objectives. Good employee discipline leads to the absence of disorders and irregularities in the employees’ behaviour. Disciplined employees cooperate and behave in orderly way.

Within the organization, the creation, promotion and maintenance of employee discipline are essential for making the organized activity efficient and effective. Employee morale and industrial peace are positively linked with a proper maintenance of discipline. It is frequently stressed that if the employees of the organization do not abide by the rules, the organization itself can collapse and chaos, confusion, disobedience, disloyalty and anti-social and anti-organizational activities develop to the detriment of everyone. Discipline is very essential for a healthy environment in the organization for the achievement of organizational goals.

                  Fig 3 Importance of employee discipline

Employee discipline is an essential phenomenon in an industrial environment and the management of the employee discipline properly is of great importance. It involves regularization of employees’ behaviour in compliance with established rules in order to achieve desired goals of the organization. The main purpose of employee discipline management is to ensure that employees conform to norms or standards of behaviour at work determined by management as being necessary for the attainment of organizational goals. Employee discipline management is one direct way by which the organization seeks to shape employee-management relations. If this shaping is not fair and right, it leads to unfavourable employee-management relations.

Disciplining of employees involves inflicting penalties on the employees who have violated the rules of the organization which is not a pleasant task. The infliction of penalties on the employees is of course done to the extent which depends on the severity of the rule violation. Hence, disciplining of the employees is vulnerable to disagreements, lack of cooperation, and even conflicts between the employees and the management. If disciplining is done unfairly and discriminatively, it can lead to unfavourable employee-management relations. Hence, good employee discipline management is very important.

Since the disciplinary actions can have serious repercussions on the employees, the organization and even on the industry, they are to be based on certain principles in order to be fair and acceptable to the employees, their representatives, and other interested parties. Hence, proper employee discipline management is very important for promoting fairness and order in the treatment of individuals and in the conduct of employee-management relations. Also good employee discipline management assists the organization to operate efficiently, effectively, and productively.

Discipline can be positively related to the performance. Employees can resist unjustified discipline from the management, but actions taken to maintain legitimate standards actually can reinforce productive group norms and result in increased performance and feelings of fairness. Employee discipline management which aims at attacking the employees’ wrongful behaviour, and not attacking them personally, attempts to improve performance of the employees as well as the organization.

Self discipline

Self-discipline is at the heart of almost any goal which the people want to achieve. It is the internal drive to make things happen. It can be defined as the ability to motivate oneself in spite of a negative emotional state. Qualities associated with self discipline include will power, hard work, and persistence. In fact, self discipline is the product of the persisted will power. Whereas will power is the strength and ability to carry out a certain task, self discipline is the ability to use it routinely. One can improve self discipline with a little effort. Persons practising self discipline are more successful than the persons who are initiated into the discipline culture either through force or through fear. It has been noticed that persons following self discipline are good leaders as they set the examples for others. All the great leaders and preachers of the world have strong faith in self discipline and they all have actively practised it throughout their lives. Many of them have attributed their successful life to this attribute.

Qualities of disciplined employees

Discipline gives the employee the strength to withstand hardships and difficulties, whether physical, emotional or mental. It allows foregoing immediate satisfaction, in order to gain something better, but which requires effort and time. It is one of the corner-stones for achieving the success and fulfillment of the objectives.

Disciplined employees work in peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. Their risks come down drastically and their stress level decreases. They enjoy the work and achieve their goals. Their self-esteem gets build-up and they achieve enhanced performance levels. They become systematic in their working which results into increase in their output. They are able to perform several works simultaneously with ease. Employees, who are not disciplined, spend most of their time in giving explanations for their failures or justifying their under-performance. This time is put into productive use by disciplined employees.

The time management of the employees gets a boost through discipline. They find a lot of time available to them to carry out multiple functions which helps in improving their satisfaction level. They also get ample time to enhance their knowledge base. The motivation level of disciplined employees improves tremendously once they notice that the processes controlled by them are performing excellently well.

Disciplined employees have good inter-personal relationship with their colleagues since they do not spend their time in things which are not connected with their work and hence do not have any issues of conflicting interest with their colleagues.  Disciplined employees neither get perturbed during failures nor get elated with success. They are normally modest in their approach which is their inner strength. The disciplined employees keep their cool and do the right things in trying situations. Discipline prevents the employees to spend their energy in worthless things and helps them in channelling their efforts for achievement of their objective, goals and targets.

The discipline in employees bring in them sincerity of purpose and faith in their abilities to perform and succeed. The discipline in them helps not to enter into conflict with others when they differ on certain issues. Discipline in employees though allows them to take pride in their achievements but at the same time prevents the success to go to their head. Hence disciplined employees always moves forward on a path of growth.

Comments on Post (4)

  • Y Surya narayana

    Nice presentation sir and it should read by all professionals and present generation

    • Posted: 19 June, 2013 at 17:19 pm
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  • K.SriKiran

    Agree with you Sir. Valuable article to be read by all. Some of us at times lacks discipline.

    • Posted: 24 June, 2013 at 04:58 am
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    Respected Sir,
    Very good prsentation sir, Because of discipline( one of the main Tool) only Gandhiji become father of nation.Thank you Sir.

    • Posted: 06 July, 2013 at 07:30 am
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  • pgpanikkar

    Respected Sarna Saheb,
    When he found that peaceful movement he initiated has become violent, a self disciplined M. K Gandhi could withdraw a movement though it had great public support.
    Discipline should be a way of life in the society .Our leaders have to develop Gandhiji`s strength.
    My experience in public sector was that unions do educate the work force about the rights of their members , they do not educate about their obligations to the employer and society. Though job security is highly desirable, in public sector it is working against efficiency and discipline. My feeling is that public sector undertakings recruit the cream from the market .But they are unable to make use of them properly mainly due to indiscipline and lethargic bureaucracy .

    • Posted: 01 September, 2013 at 06:46 am
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