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5 Tips On How To Maintain Discipline In A Working Environment

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Discipline is never a friendly word. Human nature makes everyone try to shy away from restraints on any form of freedom we enjoy. However, maintaining a scalable startup enterprise would require a great deal of discipline from both the enterpreneur and members of his team. According to George Washington: “Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.”

The importance of maintaining focus, peace and energy at the work place cannot be over emphasised. And discipline holds the key to these. Irrespective of the diverse backgrounds and outlooks of life of the various members of staff, the team leader has a duty to keep the members in line. In many companies, the human resource department has the sole responsibility of maintaining these checks and a congenial work environment. However, a startup enterprise may not have the luxury of a specialised department as such, so the team leader or another does the job of HR department – maintaining checks.

Effective discipline can help correct or restore the erring employee’s behavioral challenge(s) and should always be aimed towards increased productivity. It is noteworthy that when an individual is disciplined, he tends to attract an enduring success in almost all spheres of life. And a well regulated business enterprise would have less worry about law suits from aggrieved workers, in as much as these regulations are within the ambits of the Nigerian Labour Act. Then, how do keep my team members in line?

1. Check The Mirror

The first person to bear the brunt of discipline is the man in the mirror – you! As a startup leader, you owe your team members the duty to be responsible and alive to your tasks! No one wants to listen to a man whose ways of life reeks of gross indiscipline, recklessness and is always shifting blames.

As the head of a business enterprise, the team leader, change begins with you. The perfect brand ambassador is you and your actions or inactions must reflect this! Business 101 teaches that: you should never be late to your own meeting.. Dress like you should and not as you feel. Knowing that the diligence you exude goes along way to inspire or de-motivate your team members. You must always reflect the company’s corporate culture. No one but YOU are the first on the front line for discipline! And as William Penn puts it:
“No man is fit to command another, that cannot command himself.”

2. Remove All Distractions

Sometimes, it is better to remove every form of distractions from the work place so as not to make the your team members lose focus on what’s important. The danger here is, if permitted for long, they start seeing such ‘distractions’ as a right!

Most firms block the workers from accessing social media sites while at work. If there must be a TV, then it must be restricted to only the news channel. Other distractions may come from the outlay or comfort at the work environment. In as much as going to work should be fun, the ‘fun’ should be limited, otherwise, productivity will go down the slope. However, having a younger workforce implies that your approach to discipline is different from when you have a much older members of staff.

3. Make Clear Rules

From the recruitment stage, all employees should be handed a concise copy of the code of conduct in your establishment. Ignorance of the law (rules) is no excuse. Rules must not only be made, but also adhered to. A late comer must get an oral warning by the team leader and subsequent late comings should draw a query. The offender must know what offences attract pay cuts, suspensions and in extreme cases – dismissal.

The idea is that every erring employee must be able to defend his or her actions, and when wrong, must also be able to admit to the wrong doing.

4. Give Your Team The Space To Work

As a leader, you don’t want to be the one always breathing down the necks of your team members and leading them into confusions and mistakes through unnecessary pressures. Guide them and let them be! No one is perfect and everyone can make mistakes. Let your team members also enjoy independent thoughts about the tasks at hand. Ideas and innovations may come from them too!
All workers have a similar prayer – not to have an overbearing superior. Conflicts are bound to occur in such situations and it may lead to termination or resignation of a valuable staff.

5. Open All Communication Channels

There must be an easy access to the superiors in a work place, to enable free flow of ideas and opinions. More so, when there is a conflict of opinions.. The errant team member must be able to channel his grievances in the manner prescribed by the company, believing that there will be a fair hearing.

Discipline comes when the offender can communicate his concerns without any fear or doubt. There had been reported instances of wrongful penalties or outright dismissals meted out to workers who were not given the chance to defend themselves. And of course this would lead to legal battles, the resultant effect of which, is a big distraction for the enterprise at large.

To wrap up, having a balance of discipline at work entails that the members of staff must be able to see that they have erred. And justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done! In as much as walking the straight line of discipline is not easy in any social gathering, it is advisable as a team leader, to always appreciate, recognise and give incentives to those who have adhered to the rules of the company.

“If we don’t discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us.” – William Feather

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