Some initiatives, such as 5S, naturally improve discipline in a plant. However, most discipline issues sit squarely in the soft side of management: dealing with people.
The participants at the May 18 SIG on the Culture of Discipline didn’t waste too much time talking about poor discipline, beyond noting that many people fear that employees will leave if they’re disciplined. That did not seem to be a fear of those present in the room, however.
In general, it was felt the discipline process needed to be fair, well documented, and consistent, and it has to have received sign-off from all representative groups.
A number of best practices were suggested, including:
- Provide as much information as possible
- Document every case as if you’re going to arbitration
- Establish leader standard work
- Make sure that supervisors are on the same page as managers
- Rotate supervisors
- Do not mistake coaching for discipline. Coaching is not part of discipline.
- During a period of heavy discipline, express a lot of employee appreciation
Further to the discussion of leader standard work, participants felt that while establishing leader standard work has many benefits, its effect on discipline is not always discussed. Participants emphasized that it should be employed by both supervisors and managers. While initially it often takes the form of a checklist, care should be taken to inject randomness into the procedure (for example, by varying the time of a walk-through). As with most things, the most important consideration is to follow up.
The recommendation to rotate supervisors came from an approach that was forced by circumstances, but which proved to be very effective. In this case, the member was finding great differences in performance between shifts and the standard approaches to addressing the problem (training, coaching, KPIs, etc.) were not having the desired effect. Eventually they decided to switch the supervisors between the shifts. The supervisors involved both gained good insights and (surprisingly) ultimately remained in their new shifts; however, the move was not received well by the employees. Nevertheless, the member is keeping this technique as a tool to use in the future if necessary.
Employee appreciation programs were discussed at length by the participants. They discussed the who, what, where, when, and how of employee appreciation. Differences in approach between union and non-union shops were also discussed. Unfortunately, space does not allow us to convey that information here. If you are intrigued by these discussions, please join us at our next SIG.
Thanks to our host, Morgan Advanced Materials for their support of EMC's Strategic Interest Group events.