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Hi Sir,

Please explain the steps involved in disciplinary action and its advantages/disadvantages.


Thanks for your question Sunita.  I consider this a homework question and I usually do not answer homework questions.  I am making an exception in this case as I have an interest in this area and it currently relates to some other work I am doing.  

Before I list my opinion on the steps in a disciplinary process, I would like to comment on what makes disciplinary steps effective.  Having a clearly communicated policy, communicated in posted and employee handbook form to managers and employees is essential.  Having managers supporting and consistently administering the policy is critical and requires what I like to refer to as “mini” training sessions for the management team, annually.  

It is no small task to reach the point where managers, across all departments, administer the policy consistently.  In the absence of consistent administration, one department manager can cause the company significant legal and monetary liability if inconsistently applying the policy. Third party findings often look beyond the involved department manager, making comparative analysis of employee records for similar policy infractions across other departments. Ongoing management training is useful for calibrating certain parts of the policy, such as absenteeism, sexual harassment, poor performance, etc.   If there is a union involved these same factors (communication, training, consistent application) are critical in having the union on-board with and supporting the policy.

Steps:  (1) Written policy defining violations or undesirable behavior (2) Communicate the policy (3) Due process framework: (a) verbal warning, (b) written warning which becomes part of the employee record (c) time off without pay as defined in the policy (d) repeated violation(s) -  termination of employment (f) certain violations can be cause for immediate termination without due process.  Some examples: behavior or carelessness which results in harm to others in the workplace, controlled substance violations, stealing, etc.

In the end my opinion is disciplinary action policy and related steps should not exist as such in companies.  I can’t take credit for the opinion that follows as I discovered it at one of my corporate employers.  It was and continues to be, I am sure, a work in process.  Essentially, if one believes in trust and respect in the work place, the following communication on disciplinary action can be used as an alternative to visible disciplinary reminders/steps/rules.  To be effective it has to be included in all employee orientations, in ongoing leader/manager/supervisory training, in annual reminders to managers and employees.  It speaks volumes about a company’s culture but it takes tremendous commitment to make it come and stay alive in the work place.  Here you go.  

“In our company you will not find posted disciplinary rules.  We simply have this policy statement on shared Respect and Responsibility.  We do not visually post multiple steps on bulletin boards or in employee handbooks which define how we manage employees who have performance or similar issues related to their work or compatibility issues with fellow employees.  We do not post or otherwise communicate disciplinary actions, as 99 percent or so of the employees take responsibility for their jobs and do not need to be reminded of responsibility and respect.  In return, the company makes the commitment to respect employees and take responsibility for providing a welcoming work environment for all employees.  For the 1 percent or so of the employee population who have performance or similar issues we exercise due process, work toward reasonable resolution of issues, and decide the best course of action based on facts and circumstances.”

I hope you find the above helpful, Sunitha.  I would greatly appreciate it if you would take a minute and evaluate this answer using the multiple choice evaluation questions.



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Mark Eichinger


Any type of question related to domestic and international Human Resources work. Topic categories would include Employment Practice, Compensation design and systems in competitive markets, Health and Safety in Industrial Environments, Diversity Management, Performance Management, Talent and Career Management (Hiring, Selection, Employee Development), Communications, Coaching, Counseling, Leadership, and Management. Can’t answer: I am sure there are questions within these categories that may surface that I may not be able to answer but my experience below would suggest those would be few.


I own International Human Resources Coaching and Consulting, LLC. I successfully held corporate leadership positions from 1979 to 2007 in two $9B+ multi-national corporations. Positions included: Vice President, Human Resources for the Asia Pacific Region, Eaton Corporation; I was based in Shanghai, China. Prior to that assignment, Vice President, Human Resources Operations, Eaton World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio with global responsibility for Eaton’s Human Resources practices, international assignee management, and Regional Human Resources Directors in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Central and South America. Specifically, my experience spans work at domestic and international locations at the operating plant, division, business unit, and corporate levels and most business scenarios to include startups, closedowns, restructurings, integrations, and ongoing operations. I am an Eaton Business Excellence Assessment Examiner (Malcolm Baldrige based system). I introduced processes and process mapping into the Human Resources environment. I have extensive experience with and working in domestic and international organization matrix structures. In the Asia Pacific region I created and led the Asia Pacific level H.R. team, the professional and general manager development programs, China’s university relations program and managed the Asia Pacific key leaders process. I have coached managers and leaders. I am a professional listener, my style open, direct, and focused on leader accountability and employee engagement. In Summary, my career responsibility included more than 60,000 employees, 60 union and union free operations, and 45 countries. I also lived in Korea for two years while in service with the USA’s armed forces.

SCORE – Counselors to Americas Small Business; at various locations I have also belonged to Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. I have served on Boards of medical, community and institutional organizations.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Youngstown State University MBA work Youngstown State University, and University of Bridgeport University of Tennessee, Lean Manufacturing Certified Thunderbird School of Global Management, Management Certified.

Awards and Honors
Corporate level awards for compensation systems, communications campaigns.

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