Employee management

Sweating the Small Stuff: When to Discipline Small Behavioural Transgressions

January 31, 2019

We’ve all been there; it’s Friday afternoon, you haven’t been back to your desk in hours and can just imagine how many e-mails and phone calls need responding to before you can leave. You walk past your team and overhear them discussing the upcoming potluck and pulling up food photos on their computers. They should be working, but how big of a deal is it, really? They’re hard workers, and you’re happy that they are excited about this company event, so what do you do? Or, more specifically, how do you decide what to do?

Managers constantly run into these grey-area situations where they don’t want to rule with an iron fist, but also don’t want to encourage bad behaviour. How can you decide if it’s worth it?

There is a balance to being a great manager, and knowing the effect an action will have and the motive behind it is a very big part of it. Employees are the backbone of an organization; they work hard to achieve the goals and objectives for their managers and the bottom line of the company. In certain safety-sensitive positions, there is no room to let the occasional slight transgression go. However, in other organizations, you may have the flexibility to pick your battles. So when an employee does or says something that isn’t necessarily grounds for discipline, but is still far from being grounds for a promotion, managers need to choose whether to let it slide or bring it up.

Deciding when to sweat the small stuff is an important and challenging aspect of being a manager. Sometimes behaviours can happen for a while before the manager must decide when to address it.

When employee behaviour bothers you, there can be several factors contributing to this feeling. It’s important to stop and think before you make a rash decision that can affect the relationship between you and your team. Download our Managers Guide to Behaviour Discipline for tips to help you decide whether to intervene in a situation.

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