Managing Team Discipline In the Workplace

how to improve performance with productivity


So often business failures can be traced back to poor leadership leading to an undisciplined workforce. It is important for the leadership of the organization to maintain discipline within their area of responsibility. 

A lack of discipline will affect the running of the organization which in the end will cause damage to the bottom line. Team discipline expectations should be a leadership focus point.

Although the South African Labour Laws are outdated and the weight of it diluted by corruption, greed and deliberate ignorance it is still possible for the manager to apply the basic principles of success.

Unionization has changed the face of workforce discipline and it does not help to be just a manager with excellent management skills. 

It is my opinion that all managers must have some form of HR qualification that makes them aware of their rights in conjunction with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of 1997 and The Labour Relations Act (LRA) of 1995.

I just wish that the government will make it compulsory for business owners to have basic qualifications in these acts before issuing a business license like so many business owners wants to enforce their own interpretation of the law.

This makes life very difficult for managers who must now balance what is required by law with what the boss wants. 

This situation weakens the manager's ability to control discipline as the worker will always get away with it and the manager left standing looking like a fool. 


In the workplace, there are two main types of disciplinary transgressions that are common and this is:
  • Misconduct 
  • Poor work performance 
Misconduct is the behaviour and attitude of the employee towards the rules and policies of the company and has nothing to do with performance except that it destroys workplace relationships.

Poor work performance is human behaviour and can, therefore, be managed through counselling and training. 

How to discipline a team member is not the question but you should rather look at how you can influence your team to behave better.


As a manager, you can make life easier for yourself by ensuring that employees are well trained and fully aware of what is required of them by yourself and your company. 

To ensure that misconduct does not become an issue it is essential that: 

  • Company Policies and Standard Operating Procedures are in place, fair and ethical 
  • The employee was inducted and made aware of these policies and procedures 
  • The policies and procedures are available to the employee at any time for further reference 
  • Management and supervisory personnel are aware of the contents of the policies and procedures 
  • Ensure that middle and senior management is trained on a regular basis 
  • The manager who is responsible must be in charge of his area and not his superiors 
  • Management lead by example and discipline is measured out equally and consistent 

Poor work performance focuses on how the employee performs against his key performance areas and the standards set to achieve his goals.

It is the organization's duty to ensure employees are fully aware of what is expected and the tools to perform the task must be provided.

Some principles must be applied in the workplace so that poor performance can be detected quickly and dealt with efficiently before the problem reoccur or affect other parts of the process.

  • Make sure standards are set for each function or process 
  • Make sure the employee knows what is expected of him/her 
  • The standards set must be realistic and consistent with the process 
  • Daily measurement must be done 
  • The employee must be informed of his achievement against the standard on a daily basis 
  • Be consistent and fair
  • LEAD BY EXAMPLE !!!!!!!! 


Once poor work performance is detected the employee must be notified and the problem addressed in writing as per the company disciplinary procedures. 

Once you take this step you have to monitor and mentor the employee into rectifying his performance.

As a manager, you must realize that the disciplinary process is not punishment but merely the start of a process in developing your staff into a super performance team. 

Unfortunately once again there are many top post consignees that use the disciplinary system as a way to rid themselves of tough employees whom they are unable to mentor or "swing" to their way of thinking without the effort.

These are the guys that end up in Labour Court and cost companies more money than an underperforming employee. 

This is normally a sign of inexperience and just a total lack of management skills.

On the same page, part of the company's Disciplinary Procedure is the Grievance Procedure which enables an employee to highlight dissatisfaction with specific issues that are work or process related.

This is an excellent tool to be used and good management skills will enable the manager to be in touch with the thoughts of his workforce and how to find solutions that would normally stay dormant and become a bigger issue.

The inexperienced or ignorant manager sees this as negative criticism and unfortunately so many HR consultants have found ways to ignore these issues.

If you get too many grievances as a manager you are doing something wrong and you will have to pinpoint the problem and develop even more skills to overcome this.


Leadership plays a big role in how employees behave and in order to encourage employees to behave well you must lead by example. Leadership and Discipline go hand in hand.

Early detection of poor discipline can be managed.

Be fair, concise and consistent.

Question: How do you see the role of leadership in the workplace?

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