I recently talked to an upper-level manager at a company who gave me a little lecture about discipline: “You need to understand that our organization’s culture is different from corporate ones. My line managers would be very uncomfortable using the hammer of progressive discipline on their employees.”

Okay, I get that every organization’s culture is unique, and that some might have a more collegial atmosphere than others. But the “hammer” reference suggests that the manager doesn’t understand the most important role of progressive discipline.

It’s not to create a paper trail and scare employees. It’s to SALVAGE endangered employees.

Yes, I know that sometimes we all need to create a paper trail for a bad apple. But usually when an employee misbehaves or performs poorly, we give a warning that we hope will change behavior and/or performance for the better. In such instances we’re doing the employee a huge favor by being honest. PD is a gift, not a hammer. It gives people a chance to change.

If more managers saw it that way, I don’t think they’d feel that PD is un-collegial. They’d be honest with their employees. And everyone would be happier for it.

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