Disciplinary Actions From the Employee Perspective
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Background to the Study
Managing a group of people in a workplace is a complex task. Organizational leaders are familiar with the complexities that are innate in handling an organization. An example of a difficult inevitable occurrence in managing an organization is conflict. It represents a struggle between two opposing ideas. With this existence, conflicts between a manager and an employee are most likely a continuous encounter in the workplace.
Ensuring a sound relationship between the management and employees depends upon how it is regulated by the manager. One of the conditions for maintaining such relationship is that employees should uphold a particular performance and behavioral standards. (Jegadeesan G, 2008). Should the employees do not comply with these standards, it is assumed that disciplinary measures are enforced to improve their performance and maintain the healthy relationship. However, if the employees do not agree with the manner of implementing disciplinary actions, it can have an adverse effect on the rapport between the manager and the employees.
It is believed that the most unpleasant role of an organizational leader is to institute a disciplinary action to an erring employee (Franklin and Pagan, 2006). Although the goal is to modify the employees undesirable behaviors, their decisions are often subjected to opposing personal interpretations.
At STI, the organizational relationship is directed by the general policies provided by the STI Educational Services group to its member schools through the school administrators. A disciplinary action is instituted to employees who failed to meet the rules, meriting the imposition of a penalty. The school's disciplinary guideline values the use of a progressive and positive discipline, which aims to correct the behavior of its employees. It is imposed to the offending employee after the disciplinary committee has made their final verdict. In my experiences as a member of the disciplinary committee, I have observed that employees, whether they are recipients or observers of disciplinary actions, have various opinions with regard to our disciplinary practices. These opinions need to be examined and scrutinized in order to identify possible disorders that may complicate the organizational stability.
Nature of the Problem
It is the purpose of a disciplinary process to preserve a healthy relationship between employees and managers for an organization to perform well. Both parties are expected to abide by the prevailing regulations. Disciplinary policies are in place to serve as a guide to an orderly conduct in the workplace in order to achieve the organizational goal. (Gatchalian and Lumiqued, 2005). The situation in which the employee commits misbehavior may vary in the same way that the manager may also handle an individual situation in different ways that is commensurate to the situation. However, the method in which the manager executes the disciplinary action may produce various opinions from the employees. It can go with or contradict with the manager's perception. These opinions should not be taken for granted for it may result to future problems in the organizational relationship. The credibility of the disciplinary process should be maintained in order to preserve the strong rapport between the manager and the employees. In order to verify the credibility of the process, it is necessary to identify the perspective of the employees about the disciplinary process. While several studies have been made about proper control of employee misconducts, little is known about how disciplined employees react about the implementation of the disciplinary systems. (Greer and Labig, 1987). It is on this premise that I am convinced to explore this topic more extensively using a qualitative method to examine how disciplined employees actually think and feel about the discipline experiences.
This study will consist of the exploration and description of the employee's experience of disciplinary procedures at STI College Koronadal City Inc. After determining their views, problem areas will be identified for use as basis in improving disciplinary practices in the workplace.
Statement of the Problem
General: How do employees view the disciplinary process at STI College
Koronadal City Inc.?
What are the disciplinary practices implemented in the workplace?
What are the different opinions of employees about the way the disciplinary actions are implemented?
What are the preferences of employees in relation to the process of investigating employee misconduct?
Significance of the Study
For the school administrators, the information from this study can be used in identifying the loopholes and problem areas in developing a strategic plan for the improvement of employee discipline practices in the workplace.
For the supervisors/managers, The information from this study can be used to direct the choice of relevant strategies to be implemented.
For researchers, the result of this study will also add to the current facts and provide a general source for further research on the topic.
Scope and Limitation of the Study
This study will use the exploratory method to describe the views of employees about the disciplinary practices at STI College Koronadal City Inc. The reactions will be measured primarily through interviews and document reviews. It will be limited to rank and file employees. Such constraints will permit the researcher to employ a thorough exploration of the problems abovementioned.
Review of Related Literature
Despite the motivational training programs and development of positive work settings, it is believed that not all employees perform according to the acceptable behaviors set by the organization (Hughes, and Tomkiewicz, 1992). The occurrence of organizational misbehaviors is dependent on the opinions of employees towards the organization. If they believe that their organization is fair, it is unlikely that employees will commit misbehaviors (De Schrijver, Delbeke, Maesschalck and Pleysier, 2010).Discipline is an action that must be constantly exercised to rehabilitate employees' misbehavior due to violation of work policy and standards. Disciplinary guidelines are used for maintaining the work standard that must be imparted to employees through proper communication.
Employee disciplinary processes has transformed over time. In the pursuit of improving these practices, it has evolved from the traditional to the modern systems. The traditional autocratic imposition of punishment has transformed into new methods, where the non-compliant employee is given a chance to improve his behavior.
Progressive and positive discipline is one of the modern disciplinary systems that use counseling instead of penalty. Its primary goal is to help the employee acknowledge the faults in his or her performance and is given the chance to improve it. (Chimezie, Osigweh, and Hutchison, 2006).
One of the most significant functions of a manager is to make disciplinary decisions. Most managers possibly consider that it is biased to discipline employees for outcomes over which they have no control. The probable significant factor in the decision-making process is attributions, which possibly of particular importance to the managers who value fairness. (Judge and Martocchio, 1995).
Managers employ varied procedures in making their decisions when addressing disciplinary cases. By employing a policy-capturing approach, Klaas and Wheeler (1990) pointed out three factors that have possible contribution to the cause of disciplinary problem such as managerial provocation, personal problems and tenure. Environmental occurrences such as economic, institutional and hierarchical were also considered. It was found out that the institutional factor has the largest effect on personnel managers' decision. On the other hand, personal problems, tenure, and the economic implications of the decision had more limited influence on managerial decisions. Using the same approach, the results of another study made by Klaas and Wheeler (1992), showed that there is a relative importance of the social and institutional standards to the disciplinary decisions made by supervisors. The findings were based on the six factors used as basis in making disciplinary decisions. These factors were identified as performance decrement, documented warning, waiver, tenure, past performance, and the manner of the employee. The effects of these factors were scrutinized to gather perceptions as to the extent to which key social and institutional standards influence disciplinary decisions and subsequently develop nascent rights for employees.
For Franklin and Pagan (2003), their study on the variation in the practice of employee discipline, showed that issues such as sector, existence of unions, human resource department support have impact on the manager's decision in choosing disciplinary approaches on the assumption that the organizations uses consistency in their use of disciplinary actions. The existence of some of the abovementioned issues motivate the managers to conform to formal disciplinary policy. In another study, Franklin and Pagan (2006) posited culture as an influential factor in making disciplinary decisions. They presented two groups of factors that have causal effects on discipline practices: Tangible and intangible factors. The former describes the formal practices the organization wishes to follow and the latter provide indications why informal strategies appear as successful practices for getting things done. A recommended hypothesis using the idea of organizational culture was suggested to confirm the validity of the supposed influence of culture on decisions pertaining to employee discipline.
Disciplinary Experiences in the workplace
Greer and Labig (1987) stated that limited researches were made about employee reactions to disciplinary actions. Their exploratory study about employee reactions to disciplinary actions revealed that the manner in which the disciplinary action is instituted seems to greatly influence emotional response and affect the manager-employee relationship. The foregoing positive relationship will seem to deteriorate due to the implementation of a disciplinary action. However, when the discipline is instituted in a pleasant way, it is unlikely that adverse employee reactions will occur.
In a qualitative study made by Atwater, Leanne E., Waldman, David A., Carey James A., and Cartier, Priscilla. (2001), on recipients and observers of disciplinary process, results showed a positive perception about discipline from the two categorized groups but they may also lose respect for the one who instituted the discipline, following development of negative attitudes towards the organization as a result of the discipline. They have also the tendency to regard the experience as unfair, when it is used for informal rather than to formal rule violations.
In the exploratory study using the internal dynamics of disciplinary process made by Rollinson, Handley, Hook and Foot (2007) about The Disciplinary Experience and its Effects on Behavior, it was tentatively concluded that half of those formally disciplined will internalize the rules and the other half have the inclinations of breaking the rules. These behaviors were said to be caused by first; 'conditioning by punishment' paradigm, where punishment stimuli is ineffective in influencing the behavior. The second cause is attributed to the managerial styles that have created impressions of motives of retaliation on the disciplined person.
Alternative Investigation : refers to other possible choices in conducting inquiry
about disciplinary problems.
Causes of Misbehavior : refers to the reasons why a an organizational misbehavior is
Discipline : refers to the state of employee self-control and orderly conduct
observed in an organization.
Disciplinary action : refers to the act of implementing a corrective measures to an
employee who has committed an organizational misbehavior.
Disciplinary attitudes : refers to the outlook of an employee towards discipline.
Disciplinary experiences : refers to an exposure or observation of a person to a disciplinary
Disciplinary process : refers to the period between the recording of misbehavior and
the decision at a disciplinary committee hearing.
Organizational Misbehavior : are actions by organizational members that violates the
organizational and social norms.
Progressive discipline : a procedure in which harder penalties is implemented for
repeated disciplinary misconducts. It usually starts with an oral
warning, then written warning, followed by suspension and
This study will use a phenomenological research method to present and interpret the data which will prevent and control possible biases. It will explore and describe the employee's experiences of disciplinary procedures at STI College Koronadal City Inc. A literature review of on the views of "Employee Discipline", and studies about "Disciplinary Practices" and "Disciplinary Experiences" in the workplace will be done. From this review, this study will identify the premise of the disciplinary process which will form the bases of the questions for the interview. The opinions of employees about progressive disciplinary approach such as warning, reprimand and suspension will be given emphasis. Moreover, pertinent data sources such as STI disciplinary rules, government legislations and observations made during interviews will also be considered.
Locale of the Study
The study will be conducted at STI College Koronadal City Inc. because the respondents are employees of this educational organization. It runs under a franchising agreement with the STI Educational Services Group. The organization started its operation as an education center in 1998 and became a full college in 2009. This organization has two branches; the main branch is located at Koronadal City and the other at Tacurong City. Currently, it has 70 employees and more than a thousand students in both TESDA and CHED Programs.
Respondents and Sampling
The respondents of the study are those employees holding the rank and file positions who are recipients and observers of the disciplinary procedures practiced in the organization. Since these employees are not in managerial positions, they are normally susceptible for exposure to the disciplinary process. The views of employees about progressive disciplinary approach such as warning, reprimand and suspension will be given importance in the study.
Data Collection Strategies
The primary instrument to be used in this study will be an interview protocol which I will develop. Two employees who have experiences of disciplinary procedure and two employees who are observers of the disciplinary procedure will be invited to an interview. The questions will be open-ended so that it will lessen any guiding of the participants' responses. There will be reminders to be prepared for the questions to guarantee that detailed idea of the research questions will be addressed. Important data sources will also be considered for the purpose of the study, such as document reviews and field notes recorded from observations taken during the interviews.
All interviews will be recorded using an MP3 recorder. Individual recorded interviews will be extracted from the MP3 recorder and then electronically stored into a computer's hard drive. Folders will be created with proper labels which will contain the individual recordings. After each interview, the recordings will be played and then transcribed. Field notes will also be transcribed and stored in the same manner as the recorded audio interviews (Groenewald, 2004).
Initially, the data will be recorded using an interview protocol. The audio recordings of the interview will be repeatedly played and then transcribed and reviewed to get the main idea. The interesting information in the interview will be analyzed to determine its underlying meaning. Ideas will be noted and will be transformed into themes which reflect their meaning. This process will be repeated for all interviews. Similar themes will be compiled and grouped together (Groenewald, 2004).
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