Remember when we were kids, the dilemma our parents had when it came to spanking wasn’t “should we or shouldn’t we?” but rather… “belt or wooden spoon?” Back then the saying was “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Now don’t misconstrue this as an endorsement of ‘corporal punishment’. I’ve witnessed firsthand that time-out’s and using words seems to work really well also.
Not too long ago, parents believed it was their obligation to teach their children about character and responsibility through tough love and discipline. When we weren’t under their watchful supervision, we knew that our teachers, coaches, and even our friends’ parents had the green light to discipline us if needed. Actually, the worst part about getting reprimanded by someone other than our parents was that the real punishment would be waiting for us later when we got home!
But as times have changed, it seems that the role of parents has changed too. It appears that now parents are their kids’ “friends”. Nowadays when a parent makes a phone call to a teacher or a coach, it isn’t to apologize for their child’s behavior and promise that it will never happen again. Today, the purpose of a phone call is to defend their child and challenge the teacher or coach’s decision. Instead of teaching their children some life lessons about respecting authority and accepting the consequences for their actions, some parents even threaten these ‘alternative role models’ with legal action.
So what do ‘helicopter parents’ and ‘coddled kids’ have to do with you and your business? If you haven’t already, in the next few years, you’ll be looking to maintain and grow your business with the help of entry-level employees and supervisors who haven’t learned the valuable lessons that exist in the real world.
Not only do you have to teach these missed lessons to your new workforce, but you also have to cultivate a culture of discipline. And it seems the biggest challenge of implementing a culture of discipline is determining the right balance between ‘too much’ and ‘not enough’.
So how do you know when your expectations are too high and there’s too much discipline on your team?
When you notice that employee morale is constantly low and employee turnover is constantly high, you’re most likely out on the ‘too much’ extreme. However in my experience, most managers don’t have to worry about the effects caused by applying too much discipline within their team. If anything, the majority of companies suffer from just the opposite… not enough discipline.
Then how can you tell if your company is suffering from not having enough discipline? For one, you might find yourself thinking that your team is out of control. But beyond feeling like your employees are running your dairy, take a look at your company’s policies, protocols, and schedule. If you’re trying to operate your business without these tools, chances are you don’t have an adequate handle on the important details that affect your bottom line. In fact, it’s safe to say that without these systems in place, your employees are probably the ones who are actually in charge of your day-to-day operations. Sure, that might not be your plan. But honestly, how many days have you allowed your milkers to just “figure things out on their own and run the dairy like it should be run” and then complain that they messed everything up?!?!
When it comes to discipline at your company, the goal should be to avoid the extremes and find a proper balance. Essentially, you’ll know when you’re finding the right degree of discipline when you see how your employees react when you start enforcing your new policies and protocols. The ones who don’t value discipline will test you and eventually quit or get fired while the ones who do appreciate discipline will nod in agreement and say “thank you, it’s about time!”