The “Hot-Stove Rule” of Douglas McGregor gives a good illustration of how to impose disciplinary action without generating resentment.
The disciplinary process should begin immediately after the violation of rules/regulations is noticed (like touching a hot stove, your hand burn and burn is immediate, immediately you understand the cause and effect of it).
It must give a clear warning that so much penalty would be imposed for a given offense. The same kind of punishment should be consistently imposed for the same offense. Punishment should be impersonal ie. it should be imposed regardless of the status of the offender. Punishment should be commensurate with the gravity of the offense.
Disciplinary action must be directed against the act, not against the person.
Hot Stove Rule where discipline is concerned:-
- You had a warning – you knew what would happen if you touched the stove
- The penalty was consistent – everyone gets the same treatment
- The penalty is impersonal – a person is burned not because of who he or she is, but because the stove was touched
- The penalty is not delayed.
So check out the facts first, follow due process and, if appropriate, apply the discipline as soon after the event as investigations will allow. If you fail to be consistent, you may end up getting your own fingers burnt!
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