Dealing with employee indiscipline
There is an expectation in every workplace that standards of discipline will be observed. This applies to employees at all levels, inclusive of management and supervisory personnel, who are duty-bound to adhere to policy guidelines, rules, regulations and established procedures.
The culture of the work environment more often than not tends to dictate the customs and practices that obtain within any particular work environment. Accepting that changes will occur over time, it is for management to adopt a measured approach to introducing any aspect of change.
In this regard, it makes good sense to ensure that there is buy-in by employees, as opposed to having changes unilaterally foisted upon them. From the employee’s vantage point, there can be no lesser an expectation. Inasmuch that employees are tasked with specific duties, roles and functions, there is nothing to remove them from the need to demonstrate good values which should inform how they conduct themselves in the workplace.
These will impact significantly on the attitudes and dispositions that individuals display, the demonstration of respect for the rights of others, respect for authority, the exercise of decency, loyalty, honesty, integrity and commitment, along with other significant groundings that are embedded in the value system, which emerged from the socialization process.
The bottom-line remains that each individual, whether at the level of employee or management, must be held accountable for any act of indiscipline. The authority resides within management to enforce discipline. Notwithstanding that this is so, any action which is taken must be exercised fairly, without fear or favour, and without prejudice in any form.
Discrimination must not play a part in the process and the dictates of natural justice should be followed. At the end of the day, the appropriate and established disciplinary procedures are to be observed. It is to be advocated that indiscipline in any form is not to be tolerated and/or encouraged.
In the meting out of penalties for a breach or action that is inimical to the interest of the enterprise/organization, it is important that the punishment fits the crime. Further, that it is exercised in accordance with what was agreed upon and set out in a disciplinary code, which has been shared with all employees.
It can be detrimental to an enterprise/organization where management buries its head in the sand, and fails to take action when a glaring act of omission or breach is committed. The fall-out is equally far reaching in the instance where the offender receives a slap on the risk.
Management should always weigh the pros and cons of its actions, as the course of action taken, as in the case of the two examples we will discuss, could send the wrong message both to the offending party and those looking on.
The case involving Denesh Ramdin, West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman, makes for interesting study. As reported in the media, the player, on having scored a century in the test match, England vs West Indies, at Edgbaston in 2012, apparently took out and displayed a piece of paper from his pocket, which read. “Yea Viv, talk nah.”
This action, it is claimed, was in response to a comment made by the legendary West Indies cricket captain, Sir Vivian Richards, about Ramdin’s poor batting performances and wicket keeping. Having breached the International Cricket Council (ICC) Players’ Code of Conduct, Ramdin was subsequently fined 20 per cent of his match fee for conduct deemed to be contrary to the spirit of the game.
Of current interest, however, is the player’s recent published comments about his exclusion from the West Indies team to play against India in the upcoming home test series in Caribbean. These comments were apparently directed to the Chairman of the West Indies Selectors. If this is accurate, then such can be considered to be in poor taste, and moreover, borders on insubordination.
In examining this case, the first point to be established is whether Ramdin is one of the contracted players of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). If this is factual, it logically follows that he becomes an employee of the Board who, as a professional player, is engaged under contract. It therefore would be more than of passing interest to know the thinking of the WICB on the dispensing of disciplinary action in the two instances involving Ramdin.
The startling fact is that following Ramdin’s action at Edgbaston, he was rewarded with the captaincy of the West Indies team for a total of 13 test matches. Is this a case of a slap on the wrist, or more so, the turning of a blind eye which has come back to haunt the employer?
Is it that the WICB is conveniently willing to accept the punishments handed down by the ICC, rather than to exercise the authority it has, as the regional body, so as to ensure that the standards of conduct are not flouted with impunity?
The cases involving Ramdin have become public issues. This is unfortunate but this is seemingly so as a consequence of his own actions. Though the court of public opinion may have its say, the key point to remember is that the principles of natural justice should be observed if he is required to answer any charge(s) brought against him from the latest incident.
Dennis De Peiza Labour Management Consultant Regional Management Services Inc.
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