• Mark Shaw

Managing Misconduct in the Workplace

I was recently at a presentation delivered by an Employment Lawyer who recommended a discipline process to use when misconduct occurs. Before taking action he recommended asking the following questions.

  1. Is there a rule that has been breached?

  2. Was it reasonable to have breached the rule?

  3. Was the employee aware of the rule?

  4. Was the employee aware of the consequences of transgressing the rule?

  5. What action was taken against other employees who breached the rule?

  6. Are there any mitigating factors? 

His advice was for organisations to

  1. Develop counselling and discipline checklists

  2. Upskill front line managers

  3. Apply a consistent discipline approach, taking into account mitigating factors.

Based on my experience I found the advice sound and yet sadly out of date.  

Sound because if the situation has escalated to a formal discipline, his advice makes sense. 


Out of date as he did not demonstrate how to avoid escalating the situation to a formal discipline process.

I want to argue we need a new model that helps front line managers when misconduct occurs to avoid escalating to a discipline process.

For almost 20 years I have successfully achieved this outcome by using a model that focuses on identifying the management problem caused when misconduct occurs and then resolving that problem. Our goal is to turn around the employee or terminate the employment arrangement


The benefit in this approach is we rarely end up with a formal discipline or forced termination because we solve the problem first.  And on the rare occasion a forced termination occurs and is challenged, our process has always been found to reasonable and the resultant management decision to terminate always upheld. 

My challenge to my legal colleague and others is why even consider instigating a discipline process for misconduct when you can solve the problem first?  I trust you agree and value any feedback or comments.


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Mark Shaw

HR Business and Systems Improvement


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