Prevent discipline problems from reoccurring.

It's important to think about legal issues when disciplining. But real-life discipline has a much simpler imperative: Make sure employees don't repeat their mistakes. Follow these guidelines to prevent problems from surfacing again:

Define the rule clearly. With new rules, call a meeting to make sure everyone knows how they'll affect day-to-day activities. When enforcing a long-standing rule, be sure the rulebreaker understands it fully.

Discuss its purpose. Many people don't understand either the required behavior or the reason behind a specific rule. Others need coaching on how a seemingly unimportant rule--a dress code, for example--affects morale and profitability, or is in place for legal reasons.

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