Kendall L. Stewart, M.D.
Why are leaders hesitant to do this?
Most leaders want to be liked. They want everyone to be happy. They want everyone to read their minds and do what needs to be done without having to be told. They want to keep the peace. They want to avoid conflict and confrontation. And they want to produce exceptional results too. How has that been working for you?
What is the case for doing it anyway?
Everyone knows that positive reinforcement is more effective, but negative reinforcement still has its place. When people don’t do what they are supposed to do and when they do what they shouldn’t do, unpleasant consequences must follow. If not, the people who are behaving appropriately will begin to feel discouraged. If this sorry state continues, they will give up and go to work where good behavior is rewarded and bad behavior is punished. Unhappiness in the workplace is not always a bad thing. Slackers and troublemakers should be unhappy. Your stars should not.
How can you do it?
1. Make your expectations clear. Most organizations now publish a Code of Conduct and require their new hires to sign a document affirming they understand and will comply. If you don’t have such a document, begin drafting one today.
2. Check to make sure that your expectations are reasonable. Ask your best people to review them before you finalize them. If your best people cannot support your rules, you are being unreasonable.
3. Clarify the process noncompliance will trigger. Include this description in the Code of Conduct document.
4. Follow the process. The failure to attach consequences for noncompliance will result in the perception of favoritism. This is worse than not having a process in the first place.
5. Fire the incorrigibles. Keeping these people in the organization will create an enervating competitive disadvantage for your company in the marketplace.
How have you successfully attached consequences for failure to follow key organizational processes?