Put the focus on the employee's behavior and not his personality using a technique called positive discipline. Positive discipline is an approach for motivating employees to correct areas where they are not performing up to standard. This approach also requires supervisors to recognize where the employees have demonstrated above average performance. The positive discipline approach is a collaborative one involving a two-way discussion as opposed to a supervisor simply telling an employee he has not performed effectively. Rather than immediately documenting an employee’s performance or violation of company guidelines and taking disciplinary action, the supervisor holds a meeting in a coaching environment where he and the employee work together to address the problem.


It is more difficult to get an employee to correct a problem if she does not clearly understand and recognize what the problem is. As a first step in disciplining an employee, a supervisor should meet with the employee privately and discuss the problem, defining what was done wrong and the impact the employee’s performance is having on others. For example, if an employee is late to work, she makes it more difficult for work in the department to be accomplished by the end of the day. The supervisor should obtain agreement from the employee that there is, in fact, a problem.


Upon obtaining agreement with the employee that there has been a problem, the supervisor should solicit from the employee actions he thinks he can take to prevent the problem. For example, in the case of consistently late arrival at work, the employee may suggest that he will change his transportation schedule and arrive to work 15 minutes early.

Commitment and Feedback

After agreeing on a course of action with the employee, the supervisor should obtain commitment from the employee to take the required action and set a date when they can both meet and review whether the problem has been adequately addressed. The supervisor should recognize the employee immediately with positive feedback when she is demonstrating behavior that corrects the problem.


To begin any discipline discussion, the supervisor should commend the employee for work he has done well. This will make him more receptive to a discussion about a problem area. Whenever an employee demonstrates exceptional performance, recognize the employee at the time the performance is demonstrated. By commending the employee in addition to disciplining him for areas that need correction, the employee will be more open to correcting problem areas.