Startup Kitchen

How to maintain discipline in the team?

wrote this on Май 3, 2014


It’s a common truth that the discipline is a key to a good job. Therefore, apart from such questions as how to find, persuade, motivate the staff, you as a leader are to encounter with the need to maintain law and order within the area of your responsibility.

In recent years there is a trend of democratization of the work environment. However, we must recognize that not all matters of personnel work can be solved through the democratic means. Someone must take responsibility and stop "being good". And most likely, that "someone" is you - an effective leader.

So where the dividing line between democracy and authoritarianism lies? What separates the leader from the "sufferer"? Only discipline. And it doesn’t tolerate compromise. You shouldn’t count on the internal discipline of your employees. If you don’t take care of the discipline, even the most responsible people will be a minority. Roll up your sleeves and...

Start with yourself

The discipline always starts with the leader, and no instructions, corporate codes, fines, public censures or boycotts will help if the chief executive refuses to follow them. If you are always late, berating the employees for being late is waste breath. If you work in a slipshod manner, you shouldn’t be surprised that productivity declines until it falls to the critical point. If you chat on phone instead of working, your menacing glances at the communicative subordinates are completely useless. And it concerns any significant issue.

The leader sets the tone, style and finally creates the climate. The subordinates look at you and take an example from you. They rely on your opinion and orient on your behavior. So stop complaining about the imperfection of human nature and begin to discipline yourself. Once you’ve pulled yourself together, follow a few simple rules.

Keep your distance

There are only two options, as a result of which you can become a leader. Option one - when the leader passes through all the stages of a career path in the company from an ordinary employee to the head of a unit. Option two - when a leader takes managerial heights in the new organization. However, in this case any leader can face a new challenge - everything (or almost everything) that he wants to do is immediately faced with the corporate culture of the team he leads.

Both in the first and in the second case a key tool to promote your management decisions is the distance, as it is a required element of control. In managing subordinates this element allows the leader to see the situation from the outside, control it and find the room for maneuver. The distance also significantly affects the subordinates setting benchmarks and boundaries of acceptable behavior, cooling down the hotheads and stifling rush to demand justice. In general, the distance makes the staff to behave properly and decently.

But we should not forget that taking care about employees, working together on new and interesting projects, creating a festive mood are also important elements. Distance doesn’t mean at all that you should be arrogant and disdainful to your subordinates. Distance is an option that allows you to work and have fun. Therefore, if there is no distance, the leader must establish it. If the distance exists – it’s not worth checking it for strength.


Do you know the difference between management and orienteering? In orienteering you are looking for a solution and implement talent and get pleasure during the cross-country run. A management solution must be predetermined. And not only by you, but also by your subordinates.

First of all, it means that the employee must be aware of all the rules, procedures, permissible and impermissible actions, performance criteria, as well as measures to support and encourage before the start of work. They should neither guess, nor search. They should know not only how to act, but also the boundaries of their own powers - according to the Pareto principle they can handle with 80 cases out of a hundred on their own, and with the other 20 - with the help of the manual. Secondly, the conditions and principles of the work should be agreed. So all the rules, regulations, job descriptions and orders must be signed by the employees, so that not only you know what is good and what is bad, but also your employees.

Important "stuff"

There is a number of details that need to be considered:

1. If you gave your word – keep it. You should not give empty promises, and if you give - fulfill it. Because the fulfillment of promises is directly connected to the discipline.

2. Refer to subordinates respectfully regardless of whether you are younger or older and how long you know each other. Simple and respectful reference has a huge impact on subordinates and make them well disciplined.

3. Keep a straight face. Undoubtedly, the more successful the leader is, the more nasty things in his address he hears. The more powers he has, the more difficult decisions he has to take. And it does not matter what people think, and especially what they say. Therefore, in all the situations the leader should respond with a restrained goodwill.

4. Take a punch. No doubt, a manifestation of ordinary human emotions, such as surprise, anger, confusion, weakness makes any leader more humane. But you have no right to it. You should leave your doubts at home or at the psychotherapist.

5. Tone influences the phrase. Undeniable fact is that the leader’s shouting frightens the subordinates, because none of them wants to be involved into the conflict or to be publicly humiliated. At the same time, subordinates know that the manifestation of such emotions by the leader is a sign of loss of control. Remember that any talk in raised voice somehow shows your vulnerability, which in turn reduces the corporate distance.

6. The leader "burns". The leader should not drink and play with subordinates. Unfortunately, in most cases, leisure time of the leaders and subordinates more separates than unites. Therefore, even if the leader wants to "burn", the distance should be kept.

Accounting and Control

The discipline requires constant attention and support, accounting and control. At first glance, people are complex material for accounting, because they are very much subjective. But leave the emotions apart, i.e. concentrate not on the inner world, but only on the behavior, pertaining exclusively to labor discipline. The rules of conduct are always simple.

1. Time

To maintain discipline, first of all, introduce time accounting. Sometimes it may seem that the amount of work is too huge, the deadlines are regularly relegated, everyone works late hours. But what happens in reality? Look at the monitors – all kinds of social networks. Listen to phone conversations – discussing of  personal matters. Make an internal phone call – no response. Find out: the employee is not at the workplace.

Time management always shows how busy your staff is. Time is the most objective and neutral indicator of what is happening. "Punctuality is the politeness of kings". Therefore, all the time regulations must be necessarily executed: comings, leavings, deadlines etc. If your employees respect the time - everything sticks to the plan. If there is a disorder - something needs to be changed.

2. Dress Code

The uniform of doctors, installers, sales managers close the giant gap of the discrepancy of employees’ appearance and the accepted corporate standards. The sellers wearing clothes of the brands sold is a require of companies-leaders of the luxury trade. Bank employee is easily identified by strict blue suit. Middle manager of a large international company is easily identified by a pink shirt. Even public officials wearing corporate suit of subtle colors are forced to introduce the rules of appearance.

If you don’t have any special rules in your company, stick to the classic genre - white top, black bottom, closed shoulders and neckline. Taking into account that the main trend of the dress code in recent years - liberalization, just make sure that everything is neat: clean hair, fresh shirts, polished shoes etc.

3. Language

You should always think about what and how you speak. Linguistic violations at work traditionally include obscenity. It would seem that speech without obscenity is a mandatory rule, but it’s not so simple at all. A lot of employees of well-known organizations argue that obscenity for them is the norm.

Another important criterion of the disorder is a lie. Cheating is always alarming. This means that employees are afraid to tell the truth or hide serious problems from the leader. Moreover, lie demonstrates a lack of loyalty, trust and possibility of a crisis at any time.

Some words about assessment

Sometimes leaders think that call-down for maintaining control and discipline and evaluation of employees’ efficiency is not enough, so they proceed to an extreme measure - assessment. Today, the tools and procedures of an assessment are under intense scrutiny and discussion in the professional press. This fashionable and popular trend reflects the hope for an objective assessment of the performance of staff.

Indeed, for accounting, control and planning activities diverse processes and procedures may be provided, which, on the one hand, allow you to manage large teams, and on the other hand allow to see inconsistencies and points of growth in a large company. But the fact is that only powerful companies can afford an assessment. Modern assessment tools and procedures are designed for large companies with a very strong differentiation of functions and specialization of labor. Brand strength, reputation, broad social capabilities allow to balance monitoring and evaluation instruments.

Any attempt to transfer the experience accumulated in big business into small and medium businesses lead to a very strange result - people become offended and leave the company. Assessment tools are rigid and the real sector has no resources for holding people under strict assessment: salaries are small, benefits package is nominal. Therefore, without special problems and sufficient resources it’s better not to check the team for strength. It will not work.

In conclusion, we can say that the discipline in the team can be achieved only through training of both the leader and the subordinates. Remember: fish begins to stink at the head, so the disciplined leader is a pledge of a disciplined team.

Leonid Zverugo
About the Author

Leonid Zverugo is the CEO of 32dayz (task and time tracking).