Radiance of Discipline – No more Murkiness

No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No stream or gas drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.

Harry Emerson Fosdick

Implementing a proper policy for discipline is an intricate task, most of you will agree, no matter how well we preach; implementing it in companies brings obscurity, but why? The explanation is that unless we won’t stop using discipline as a synonym for punishment, people will have their qualms and reservations.

Few Organizations may implement the discipline-without-punishment concept, and some others may still have difficulty in changing their disciplinary approach. Most likely it is caused by the attitude of many managers who believe that punishment is the only solution to deal with employees’ failures. They fail to notice that the concept of organizational discipline is not to punish misbehavior and enforce compliance, but to build individual responsibility and re-inspire commitment. Therefore, this misconception may lead to a catastrophe of generating employees who are committed to the goals of the organizations.

Misconduct and other offensive behavior often leads to decreased levels of productivity as they affect the individual performance of the employees. Apart from Intrinsic discipline or self discipline there are three approaches of Discipline used in Companies in order to curb the misconduct or any other wrongful practice.

Progressive Discipline: This form of discipline is generally known as Performance Improvement plans in many companies, Progressive discipline requires letting employees know what you expect, to be fair, consistent, and objective in imposing discipline, to include employees in the process of improvement, and to document your actions and decisions properly. Following are some of the benefits of progressive discipline:

  • The moment the first sign of trouble is noticed, managers need to intervene and correct employee behavior
  • Enhance communication between managers and employees
  • Managers achieve higher performance and productivity from their employees
  • Perk up employee morale and retention by demonstrating that there are rewards for good performance and consequences for poor performance, something of the sort of Mc Gregor’s theory.
  • ensure consistency and fairness in dealing with employee problems,
  • It lays the groundwork for fair termination for employees who cannot or will not improve.

Here the process would be:

Verbal Warning

Written Warning



Preventive Discipline: The Company must ensure preventive discipline and related developing programs to prevent absenteeism or accidents, or communicating to employees the new rules that must be designed as per the past occurrences within the organization. It also should explain and support for the existence of a perfect match between what is sought and what is done.

HR department should take care of the regulation, adjusting course, to have the personal rights and should not create futile prohibitions that may cause general melancholy among workers. That is, rather than standards, recommendations of how to be better at an activity or work.

Positive Discipline: This approach works on providing solutions rather than handcuffing the employee at any given opportunity, the notion behind this is to give them a chance to become a responsible employee with a change in their behavior with proper counseling and coaching. The chance to improve upon is what makes the positive approach optimistic.

An opportunity to the subject is given to clarify their side of the story and so they get a chance to justify their deeds. One precaution in this approach to be taken is to only use trained staff for counseling; un-trained staff might aggravate the situation’s negativity.

Here the process works something like this:


Written warning

Final Warning


Came across this wonderful piece on Citefin forum, each line specifically talking about how empirical discipline is in our lives, both personal and professional. It actually describes what is required to be said about discipline in life, no matter what approach or method, Mc Gregor’s point of view or some one else’s opinion on discipline, some one beautifully summarized all of it…

Through the steel of Discipline,

With courage and peace
You will forge a character.

Without them, you
Are like a mariner
Without a compass,
Who eventually sinks
With his ship. Similar
Is the man without discipline.

Discipline is built by
Consistently performing
Smaller acts of courage.
The more you nurture
The embryo of self discipline,
The more it will mature —
You’ll soar to new heights.

  • Rahul

    Very well said and written with excellence. Discipline is being taught to us since ancient time, still it seems a process which many of us try to follow in different ways but lack in implementing. As when comes to reality it really requires practice, as you said. Hope organizations will learn from this article and me too.

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thanks Rahul!! 

  • Limmyazal

    Indeed. The one who  Endures (Obey) may have success

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Its not just about enduring…its living with self discipline..which makes a person successful…… Thanks @ef7e94b579b25ce2ed714edd3ac6202d:disqus for your valuable views…:)

  • Rnair

    very well said. 

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Thank you @6bf438645bfa87798787f0c15450dca0:disqus , hope we will work towards it…:)

  • chetna

    Hi archna! The need today is to train the employees in “Inner Discipline”. As buddha said- “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles(disciplining others). Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.” Its the character of your discipline that takes you places. 

  • Archna Khurana Sharma

    Hey @af0fd7c1959651ae683e8e4025df452f:disqus …the quote is so apt and superb…hope we all learn the deep meaning from this quote by Gautam Buddha….once discipline is incorporated in character…truly no one can take it from us…:) thanks for such wonderful insights and sharing wonderful quote…

  • Mmkoketso

    very well said. khurama sharma can yoou please help i am running a small organisation and employ 3 people. the problem is whenever i try to instill descipline in thenm they fell that i am troubling or some how impossible in their lives. my question is how do i get my employees to be desciplined without having to worry about them thinking that i am hard on them?