Employers typically use performance appraisals to measure how well employees perform their assigned duties and tasks. Performance appraisals are a component of the overall performance management system. However, in addition to measuring job performance, there also must be a method for measuring employees' performance deficiencies. A discipline method is a process that should be another component of your organization's performance management system.

Performance Equals Success

Employees' talents and contributions make your business goals attainable. This includes small businesses that often rely on limited staff. In large organizations, several employees may perform similar jobs, so when just one employee's performance isn't up to par, it might not affect the organization's success. Conversely, in many small businesses, employees fill more than one role and, therefore, must be highly proficient and skilled workers. Subpar performance of just one employee in a small business could be detrimental to the company's success and profitability.

Performance Measurement

Performance management systems have one primary goal: to sustain high performance across the entire workforce. Job descriptions give employees guidelines on company expectations. Performance standards are baselines for determining whether an employee meets the company's expectations. Annual performance appraisals formally evaluate how well an employee is performing. A well-rounded performance management system includes the company's discipline model. Discipline models are useful in identifying and correcting employees' performance, behavior and actions that fall short of the company's expectations. However, choosing the wrong discipline model does more harm than good, often resulting in a less productive workforce than one that is motivated to reach high performance levels.

Progressive Discipline Model

Progressive discipline policies have increasingly severe consequences. For example, the first time an employee disregards a supervisor's instructions, he might receive a verbal warning. The second time it happens, a written warning may be in order. If he ignores his supervisor's work directive a third time, he could get a final written warning. The fourth occurrence might warrant suspension or termination, depending on how many steps are in the discipline policy. Progressive discipline, or employing punitive tactics in the workplace, creates an organizational culture of fear and intimidation.

Constructive Feedback Model

Many employers rely on constructive feedback to address employees' performance issues. Within the context of performance improvement and behavior modification, constructive feedback addresses employee performance issues through two-way dialogue that focuses on problem solving. When an employee's performance fails to meet job performance standards or when an employee engages in inappropriate workplace behavior, his supervisor brings it to his attention. The supervisor explains how poor performance or inappropriate behavior affects the workplace. Together, they develop a plan to improve job performance or behavior so that it meets the company's expectations. It's imperative that supervisors give employees feedback that enables them to correct their actions or behavior and resume progress to a successful career.

For example, an employee whose absenteeism has become problematic meets with his supervisor, who explains that absenteeism affects how colleagues and supervisors view his competence and dependability. The supervisor goes on to elaborate that the employee's reputation and employment status could suffer as a result of poor performance. The supervisor then asks if there's anything that prevents the employee from being at work at the expected time. Through open dialogue, the supervisor might learn that morale is the reason the employee doesn't feel like coming to work, not that his alarm clock doesn't work. The dialogue continues as both the supervisor and employee address the root cause of the problem and devise a way to correct it.

Selecting a Discipline Model

All employers must have a method for recognizing and motivating their employees. Under ideal circumstances, adult colleagues interact in a mutually respectful manner, which means the employer and employee are capable of engaging in dialogue that creates positive working relationships. The traditional workplace discipline model diminishes the employee's value in the relationship to that of a child, because adults discipline their children. Adults don't discipline other adults. In a small business, employer-employee relationships are likely to be more cohesive and collegial than those in large conglomerates; you don't want to choose a discipline model that alienates workers or creates strained relationships between leadership and staff.