Organizational Discipline


Organizational Discipline

Discipline is required for any activity where people work together toward a common objective. The opposite of discipline is anarchy, where each person does what he wants without concern for others. Any organization depends on group cooperation, and cooperation cannot be achieved without discipline. Discipline is the structure and order within an individual or within a group that allows for true cooperation, real support of the mission and the members of the team or organization.

Organizational discipline is the orderly and systematically conducting the affairs of the organization by the organizational members who strictly adhere to the essential rules and regulations. These employees/organizational members work together and cooperate harmoniously with each other as a team so as to achieve organizational vision and mission as well as organizational goals and objectives and they truly understand that the individual and group aims and desires must be matched so as to ensure organizational success.

While punishment plays a role in maintaining discipline, such usage does not help in an organization which has a mission to succeed. Disciplinary authorities in an organization should know that an employee motivated by fear would not perform efficiently in his job and may not perform well under conditions of emergency. Hence emphasis on training in place of punishment is a better way to achieve organizational discipline.

The objectives of the organizational discipline are (i) to obtain a willing acceptance of the rules, regulations and procedures of an organization by its employees so that organizational goals can be achieved, (ii) to impart an element of certainty despite several differences in informal behaviours pattern and other related changes in an organization, and (iii) to develop among the employees a spirit of tolerance and a desire to make adjustments.

Organizational discipline is an essential management tool necessary for the smooth and effective functioning of the organization. It facilitates efficiency and streamlines the operations of the organization. It helps the organization to move forward. It is also very important for peace and harmony in the organization. An organization devoid of discipline would be a mess of resources and nothing more. Organizational discipline, once instilled in the employees, helps in getting best out of them.  Components of organizational discipline is shown in Fig 1

Organizational discipline

Fig 1 Components of organizational discipline

Organizational discipline is that mental attitude and state of training which renders obedience instinctive under all conditions. It is a state of order that is a result of regulations and rules. It is a learned behaviour and is founded upon respect for, and loyalty to properly constituted authority. While it is developed primarily by training, every feature of organization life has its effects on organizational discipline. It is generally indicated in an employee or group of employees by respect for seniors; and by prompt and cheerful execution by subordinates of both in the letter and the spirit of legal orders of their lawful superiors.

One must be disciplined to achieve one’s goals. Organizational discipline consists of a training that moulds, develops, strengthens, and perfects mental faculties and character. It involves placing team’s goals above own goals, being willing to accept orders from higher authority, and carrying out those orders effectively. Part of the job of an employee is to make his fellow employees aware of the purpose and meaning of organizational discipline. The main features of organizational discipline are as follows.

  • Training that is expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.
  • Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training.
  • A systematic method to obtain obedience.
  • A state of order based upon submission to rules and authority.
  • To train by instruction and control.

Types of organizational discipline

Organizational discipline can be classified into the following types.

  • Self discipline – Self discipline is a willing and instinctive sense of responsibility that leads one to know what needs to be done. Getting to work on time, knowing the job, setting priorities, and denying personal preferences for more important ones are the measures to determine how self disciplined one is. This is the highest order of all disciplines because it springs from the values which employees use to regulate and control their actions. The ideal situation is to motivate employees to willingly discipline themselves, and exercise self control and direction to accomplish the task.
  • Task discipline – Task discipline is a measure of how well an employee meets the challenges of his job. Task discipline requires that the employee has a strong sense of responsibility to do his job to the best of his ability.
  • Group discipline – Group discipline means teamwork. Since most jobs in an organization require that several people work effectively as a team, group discipline is very important.
  • Technological discipline – It is the discipline needed to be followed by the technology employed at the work place. Without this discipline, processes will be unproductive and unsafe.
  • Imposed discipline – Imposed discipline is the enforced obedience to legal orders and regulations. It is absolute necessary in case of emergencies when there is no time to explain or discuss an order. Training in organizational discipline teaches employees to carry out orders quickly and efficiently. This type of discipline prepares employees to accomplish a task in any situation and in any environment.

Organizational discipline is often associated with punishment. This association clouds the positive implications of discipline. A well-disciplined organization has little need for punishment. The aim of organizational discipline is to correct the behaviour of an employee through training and instructions instead of punishing him. A supervisor must explain to his subordinates where they need to improve. He must provide his expertise to his subordinates. In fact organizational discipline ensures order and well-being of employees of the organization.

A supervisor must provide his expertise and give time to those working under him to implement his suggestions and improve their performance. If the employee refuses to improve or correct his conduct, then only disciplinary action can be taken. The best form of employee discipline is when it does not come as a surprise. Authorities must communicate regularly with the employees, so that the employees have an idea about what is coming.

Importance of organizational discipline

Organizational discipline is important for any organization. It has the following effects.

· Protection – Conduct of an employee in an organization affects other employees too. Organizational discipline is a way of protecting other employees who put in their time and talent at the workplace. With a clear and effective organizational discipline plan in place, employees know the consequences of their conduct. This streamlines providing information about employee behaviour and provides a sense of security to employees.
· Improves performance – A transparent organizational discipline system can deal effectively with problems like absenteeism, tardiness, missing deadlines, and not adhering to the code of conduct at the workplace. Organizational discipline indirectly helps employees to put their time to best use.
· Gain of the organization – Other than ensuring protection, effective organizational discipline code creates a congenial environment in which employees can work. This increases their output, which translates into improved working of the organization. Also in today’s environment of easy communication, an organization with a strong reputation of organizational discipline can retain employees as well as attract more talent.
· Positive organizational discipline – Tools for organizational discipline are powerful and must be used only in a positive way. The six components for positive organizational discipline in an organization are communicating performance expectations and requirements to employees, followed by giving oral reminders, written reminders and disciplinary leave of absence, suspension and termination. The components are in increasing order of severity. The initial components provide support and time for the employee to correct his performance. If that fails, more severe components are used.
· Promotes appropriate behaviour – A disciplined environment in the organization helps put both management and employees towards their best behaviour. Managers must strictly adhere to the rules of the organization in order to effectively lead those looking to them as examples. Employees who enter this type of administration know what the expectations are as well as the penalties for committing violations. This knowledge promotes appropriate actions and conduct.
· Efficiency – Efficiency is usually to the organizational discipline. Employees must discipline themselves in working in a timely manner to produce quality output. Organizations must strive to cultivate a workplace in which standards are set which everyone in the organization is called upon to meet. This allows management and employees to get things done. Organizational discipline requires concentration, time management and orderliness, which all contribute to efficient labour.
· Peaceful environment – Peacefulness ensues when employees have workplace that is committed to values. The organizational environment which does not issue specific guidelines for behaviour is frequently impulsive, erratic and uncertain. It is extremely difficult for management to effectively lead employees under these conditions. Organizational discipline encourages a pleasant environment that promotes good management and employee relations.
· Fairness – Organizational discipline helps to produce an honest environment in which everyone is treated fairly. An employee does not have to fear being shouldered with an unfair amount of tasks because set procedures are in place that calls for employees to share the load. Managers are less likely to play favorites in a disciplined environment as well, as they are subjected to the same conduct requirements as all others in the organization.
· Ensures safety – Safety in an organization is of vital importance. Managers do not want the employees to suffer preventable accidents. Organizational discipline helps the employees to abide all the occupational safety regulations and trains the employees appropriately in the safety procedures. It provides a disciplined environment which is necessary for a safe work place.