When one of your subordinates disobeys or fails to
carry out an order, you must take action. You would be
remiss in your duties as a supervisor if you did not do
something about it. The most common type of discipline
is the simple reprimand.
The reprimand, too, must be fitted to the individual
and the situation. A sensitive individual might be
crushed by the slightest hint of something wrong, while
a thick-skinned person could easily deal with a severe
The reprimand should be a calm, constructive
action, not a destructive one. You are interested in the
underlying causes, not in how to get even with the
Failure to act when a reprimand is due is a sign of
poor supervision. No one likes a supervisor who is too
lenient and ingratiating. If one individual gets by with
something, the supervisor may lose control. On the other
hand, issuing too many reprimands is just as bad.
A good supervisor knows how to draw a tine line
between harshness and leniency. A person with a keen
understanding of human nature is able to discern this
Be sure to practice the three Fs of discipline: Fairness,
Firmness, and Friendliness. The recommended procedure
for administering reprimands follows:
Get all the facts.
Do not reprimand a person in front of others.
Put the person at ease. Find a word of praise first,
if appropriate, to take out the sting.
Use no sarcasm, anger, or abuse.
Fit the reprimand to the individual.
Have all the facts at hand; the person may attempt
to deny the charge.
Present the facts.
Ask the person why there was an error.
Try to get the person to admit the mistake.
Do not threaten; this person knows how far you
Once the wrong is admitted, the reprimand is
Leave on a friendly note, and let the person know
the incident is closed. Do not nag.
Later, follow up with a casual and friendly
contact at the shop.
To test the effectiveness of your reprimand, ask
yourself, Did it build morale? Remember, you must get
along with this person in the future; you must keep this
person as a working, producing individual; and you
must be able to get along with your own conscience. You
do not have to be soft, but remember that there is a great
deal of difference between dignity and arrogance.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE DISCIPLINE. So
far, discipline has been discussed in terms of
punishment. Actually, discipline is much more than
reprisal for wrongdoing. Discipline exists also where no
disciplinary actions ever have to be taken. Most people
realize they cannot get along without self-discipline and
that no organization can function and no progress can
be made unless individuals conform to what is best for
the whole group. The supervisor who can build the spirit
of cooperation, which is the basis for true discipline, has
no discipline problems.
Positive discipline, the trend in discipline being
studied widely by intelligent executives and
supervisors, is the force that originates within
individuals that prompts them to obey the rules and
regulations. People in a Navy organization do what is
right because they do not want to hurt the group as a
whole and because they believe that by following the
accepted rules, they will help the group achieve its
objectives. This is called esprit de corps. The
supervisor who builds esprit de corps has little need to
resort to negative discipline.
Negative discipline is a discipline of fear based on
threat of punishment. This type of discipline originates
from without. If you subject people to this type of
discipline, they will do only enough to get by when you
are watching. When you leave for a few minutes,
discipline leaves too. Their only motivation for working
is fear of reprisal.
Discipline and high morale go hand in hand.
Positive discipline is closely tied to the admiration and
respect personnel have for their supervisor. This, in turn,
is breed on good human relations.
THE HUMAN RELATIONS ASPECT OF
DISCIPLINE. Good human relations between
supervisors and their work force are easy to spot. The
upbeat, enthusiastic atmosphere in the shop indicates
that supervisors appreciate and understand the workers;