People often think of discipline as something negative. It’s what you do to correct the behavior of children or dogs when they misbehave. But discipline is also a positive force that helps you achieve your goals. Consider top athletes and high-achievers; it’s not just skill that makes them successful, but also discipline. No personal success, achievement or goal can be realized without discipline.

That’s how you should view employee discipline: as a systematic way for both managers and employees to work together in achieving goals and overcoming problems. But for a system to work, it needs to be documented and followed consistently by employees and managers alike.

Documenting employee discipline shows how specific company policies were violated, and that the employee was made aware of it. This can go a long way toward staving off an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation.

We’ve all heard and said at times that what you don’t know can hurt you. This is especially true when a business is put on the defensive by an employee who files a complaint which may or may not have any merit or basis. We have seen too many situations where large amounts of time, effort and money are spent to defend the company even in cases where the company did nothing wrong.

The majority of employees will never create any major problems for the organization during their tenure. However, a small percentage of employees will create turmoil whether by being poor performers, or worst case through some level of external complaint either through a State or Federal agency such as the Department of Labor, State Unemployment Agency, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or by retaining outside legal counsel.

What can you do to protect your organization from employee complaints that have no basis? Let’s focus on the old football adage in this situation, the best offense is a good defense. Every company, regardless of its size should have a well thought out employee disciplinary process, AND managers who are properly trained to administer the process. If you have the process but managers aren’t trained to use the disciplinary process correctly and consistently then it’s worthless. We will delve into the specifics of an effective employee discipline program in our next newsletter. Stay tuned…