Discipline Without Punishment

“We need to understand the difference between discipline and punishment, Punishment is what you do to someone; discipline is what you do for someone” – Zig Ziglar

Disciplining people has always been a difficult matter for managers with many being uncomfortable with its adversarial nature. This often leads to the performance or behavioral issue being avoided and left unaddressed (which exacerbates the problem), being addressed inconsistently (which makes the manager seem week and the process unjust), or being handled poorly (which damages the relationship and creates an on-going problem). Rarely is the discipline process handled well!

The traditional progressive discipline approach is certainly unpleasant. It breeds resentment and hostility. But the traditional system is flawed in two ways: firstly, it tends to exclusively rely on punishment, and secondly it is insufficiently demanding on the person being disciplined. Punishments used, such as warnings, reprimands, suspensions without pay, only produce compliance which only works in the short-term and is ineffective. You want commitment, and you cannot punish people to gain commitment.

So how can you discipline people effectively without resorting punishment? And how, in doing so, can you gain commitment from the employee to perform and behave to those standards which are expected?

Before we go into this there is one caveat, we are assuming that you have and follow a documented disciplinary process. If not, you need to develop this as soon as possible, so that the process is clear and transparent to everyone (managers and employees), and that you are consistent in your treatment of people.

This new approach is progressive, as problems became more serious so the responses became more serious. But instead of using punishments, the focus is on engaging the individual in agreeing to change. They are being treated as an adult, not as a poorly behaving child. The focus is on requiring the individual to take responsibility for themselves and their actions and to make the decisions for himself or herself.

Often the final step in a traditional disciplinary process, before termination, is an unpaid disciplinary layoff. In this approach, this is replaced with a paid disciplinary suspension.

How It Works – The Paid Disciplinary Suspension
Upon reaching the final step in this new system, the employee is told that he would be suspended from work on the following day. He was told that he must return on the day after the suspension having made a final decision: either to solve the immediate problem and make a total commitment to fully acceptable performance in every area of his job, or to quit and find more satisfying work someplace else. The company bears the cost of this paid day as a sincere demonstration of its desire to see the employee change and stay. However, the employee is told that if he decides to stay, and there is another disciplinary problem, then he or she will be terminated. In essence, his or her future is in his or her own hands, it is their choice to make, and the company will accept his or her decision. Fundamentally, the choice is either to change and stay; or quit and find opportunities elsewhere.

Advantages of Discipline without Punishment

  • Cooling-off period – it allows both sides to calmly reflect on the situation,
  • Provides a dramatic gesture – the suspension period forces the employee to face the facts; face unemployment or correct your behavior.
  • Defensive – should an employee be fired and then challenge the action the company has a clear and demonstrable process that the employee was fully aware of the situation and the alternatives, and that the employee made their choice.
  • Demonstrates good faith – this shows the individual that the business is serious in its intent.
  • It makes life easier for managers – many managers are loathed to take disciplinary action. This process makes it easier as the onus for the decision to stay or leave is the employee, not the manager.
  • It’s appropriate for any job – whether the employee is at the front-line, middle-management or in the upper echelons of the business it is equally applicable and transparent.
  • It reinforces your values – most organizations take pride in being fair employers. This allows you to be so without punishing people in a way that compromises the spirit of your values.

So will you keep discipline without punishment? Make people responsible and accountable for their performance and actions, and help them decide what to do – whether to leave or to commit to change and improve their performance and how they behave.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.


Flea Training

What is the one thing that limits your personal success most?

This is a story originally told by Zig Ziglar – a leading sales trainer and motivational speaker. It is a good story – short, to the point and memorable. I won’t say anymore – just take a moment to sit back and enjoy this particular gem.

Flea Training

Fleas basically do two things… They jump and they ride dogs… 

If you want to train a flea what you gotta do is put a flea in a jar, and if you put a flea in a jar, the flea will jump right out of the jar.  So in order to train the flea, what you do is put a lid on the jar and you watch the flea jump and the flea will jump – clap – clap – clap – clap.  You watch that flea jump and hit its head on the inside lid of the jar. 

You come back 10 minutes later, the flea is still jumping clap – clap – clap – clap – clap – clap and he is still hitting his head on the inside lid of the jar. 

You come back an hour later, the flea is still jumping – clap – clap – clap – clap – clap – clap and he is still hitting his head on the inside lid of the jar. 

You come back an hour later, the flea is still jumping – clap – clap – clap – clap and he is still hitting his head on the inside lid of the jar. 

About two hours later at some point, the itty bitty flea even with his itty bitty brain figures out that hitting the inside lid of the jar is not such a good idea and so the flea alters its jumping pattern.  The flea still jumps nonstop but now it’s jumping about an inch from the inside lid of the jar.  You’ve trained the flea at this point.  You can virtually take the lid off the jar and watch the flea jump from now until doomsday and guess what?  That flea is never jumping out of the jar. 

Folks, that flea has all the power in the world to jump right out of that jar, but it can’t and it won’t and the reason why is because the flea doesn’t know the difference between a real limitation being the lid and a limitation it put on itself.  Most people, unfortunately, are the same way.  Most people don’t know the difference between a real limitation and a self-imposed limitation – and I’m here to tell you that there are no real limitations. 

Oh sure, if you have no legs you got some limitations.  Sure if you didn’t go to Harvard, you have some limitations.  At the end of the day, there really are no limitations except what you decide are limitations.  There are no real limitations.  There may be some challenges, there may be some things you have to overcome, but there are no real stops in your life.  There are no real limitations in your life – it’s what you put on yourself”

I smile every time I read this story. It reminds me that what I achieve is up to me, that the biggest barrier I face is myself, and my biggest supporter is myself.  It reminds me to wake up every day and choose to succeed and achieve.  Share this story with your colleagues, your team, your friends, and family – help them see and realize their own potential, and in doing that do it for yourself!

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here.

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

A Tool for High-Performance – The Locus of Control

There is a simple, but useful tool that helps you to understand how people respond to situations, and to anticipate their likely behaviour. It can also help you identify those who are likely to be winners and losers. This tool is called the Locus of Control.

Everyone wants to know what separates winners from losers. One of the significant factors limiting the attainment of your vision is the degree to which you believe you are in control of your destiny. Your locus of control can be internal or external. You can have a combination of both but normally one will outweigh the other.  So what are the differences between an internal Locus of Control and an external Locus of Control,, and how can you identify them?

  • External Locus of Control – you can tell by listening to what you say, or your team members, when talking about your business and your life. If you hear things like, “I would have been successful but the economy turned sour” or “I got caught by a pile of bad debts so I had to close the business down” you have an external locus of control. People with an external locus of control blame the external factors for their failure.

Locus of Control

  • Internal Locus of Control  – people with an internal locus of control feel that they can influence the issues around them. You’ll hear them say things like “I misjudged the market so I put on too many people which ended up costing me a packet of money” or “I found that my skills weren’t sufficient to handle the negotiation”.

Get into the habit of listening to the people to determine whether they have an internal or external locus of control. Of course, those who have an external locus are the ones who find it difficult to change. It’s always someone else’s fault or responsibility.

If you are setting up a team or looking at staffing make sure you have plenty of people with an internal locus of control. In simple terms, a person with an external locus of control is problem focused, while a person with an internal locus of control is solution focused. Remember, you will always find what you are looking for. Sometimes you find that by teaching someone about the locus of control, and helping them to change their own mindset they can change from having an external locus of control to an internal locus of control.

There is little point in developing a focused and aggressive business strategy if you are surrounded with people who believe that the Government, their people and even their customers are conspiring against them. You are defeated before you start. How can this be resolved?  By having people with an internal locus of control!

To see or download this blog as a PDF article click here.

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

Leading and Succeeding in Challenging Times

Leaders are faced with the on-going dilemma of maintaining long-term and sustainabChallenge & Succeedingle profitability, whilst having to meet the short-term gains demanded by investors. Here are a few insights into how you can lead more effectively in these challenging times.

Andrew’s Top 8 Insights

  1. Change your mindset – instead of looking at the issue of how do you maintain long-term profitability or deliver short-term gains look at changing your mindset by changing one word. Change “or” to “and”. So, it becomes, how do you maintain long-term profitability and deliver short-term gains? Asking “and” instead of “or” opens up your thinking, the possibilities and creativity in identifying potential solutions.
  2. Learn continuously in your work – you cannot know everything you need to know to perform and achieve the results on a sustainable basis. With an accelerating rate of change the currency of what you do know has a shorter ‘shelf-life’ and is increasingly likely to become out-of-date and/or obsolete. So be open to learning from everyone and anyone, from outside your industry, wherever you might find that which can assist you. Make this part of how you work, focusing on those things which are important and relevant whilst keeping a watching brief on other things.
  3. Adopt an ‘investment approach’ – look at what you want to achieve in the long-run and use this to guide what you need to do in the short-run. You need to have clear fundamental principles to guide you and your people in how to do this, without proscribing what they need to do in doing so.
  4. Look for simplicity – this is not to say you want to make things simplistic, rather you want to understand the essence of what you have to deal with. Once you understand this then adopt and adapt what you need to do to be effective.
  5. Be innovative – it is a case of what got you here won’t get you there. In innovating you need to achieve three thing:
  • firstly, create an environment where people are encouraged to and supported in initiating new things and ideas;
  • secondly, act on these things and ideas and invest in them appropriately to implement and commercialize them successfully; and
  • thirdly, bring people along on this journey – both internally and externally (including customers, suppliers and other stakeholders) – to make it a success.
  1. Create a strong leadership culture – leadership is a choice, not a position, and occurs at all levels in the business. You want all leaders to be able to articulate and demonstrate what is expected in terms of business thinking and thought, how to drive results and outcomes, caring for people and holding them accountable, and the key leadership behaviours expected and required.
  2. Be comfortable with ambiguity – the world is not black and white, but rather consists of many shades of grey. As leaders we need to be able to accommodate this, and in doing so be flexible in the decisions and judgements we make, and to do so especially when we lack all the information we would like to have.
  3. Focus business discussions on key areas – there is the risk with so many things affecting us and the business that we will get distracted from the business itself. So bring back your discussions back to what matters:
  • Improving business capability
  • Activities that build and maintain competitive advantage
  • Things that are being done to improve business productivity
  • How you are mitigating current and future risk
  • How you are supporting earnings / funding and how it is tracking to industry standards, and
  • Proposed investments that support business sustainability.

The power of these insights is multiplied when you share them with your team and reports. Use these eight points as a discussion tool to share perspectives, insights and experiences in creating a commonly shared, understood and articulated approach.. Take the ideas and guidelines generated and cascade them throughout the organization. This helps to align and communicate expectations across the organization. This will help you, and them, to succeed in challenging times

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)



Can Executives Really Change Their Behaviour?

Can Executives Really Change Their BehaviourMy mission is to help successful leaders achieve positive, long-term, measurable change in behaviour. The following process, developed by Marshall Goldsmith, is being used by coaches around the world for this same purpose. When these steps are followed, leaders almost always achieve positive, measurable results in changed behaviour — not as judged by themselves, but as judged by pre-selected, key co-workers. This process has been used with great success by both external coaches and internal coaches.

If the coach will follow these basic steps, clients almost always get better.

  1. Involve the leaders being coached in determining the desired behaviour in their leadership roles. Leaders cannot be expected to change behaviour if they don’t have a clear understanding of what desired behaviour looks like. The people that I coach (in agreement with their managers) work with me to determine desired leadership behaviour.
  2. Involve the leaders being coached in determining key stakeholders. Not only do clients need to be clear on desired behaviours, they need to be clear (again in agreement with their managers) on key stakeholders. There are two major reasons why people deny the validity of feedback – wrong items or wrong raters. Having clients and their managers agree on the desired behaviours and key stakeholders in advance helps ensure their “buy in” to the process.
  3. Collect feedback. In my coaching practice, I personally interview all key stakeholders. The people I coach are executives or aspiring executives, and the company is making a real investment in their development. However, at lower levels in the organization, traditional 360° feedback can work very well. In either case, feedback is critical. It is impossible to get evaluated on changed behaviour if there is not agreement on what behaviour to change.
  4. Reach agreement on key behaviours for change. My approach is simple and focused. I generally recommend picking only one to two key areas for behavioural change with each client. This helps ensure maximum attention to the most important behaviour. My clients and their managers (unless my client is the CEO) agree upon the desired behaviour for change. This ensures that I won’t spend a year working with my clients and have their managers determine that we have worked on the wrong thing!
  5. Have the coaching clients respond to key stakeholders.The person being reviewed should talk with each key stakeholder and collect additional “feedforward” suggestions on how to improve the key areas targeted for improvement. In responding, the person being coached should keep the conversation positive, simple, and focused. When mistakes have been made in the past, it is generally a good idea to apologize and ask for help in changing the future. I suggest that my clients listen to stakeholder suggestions and not judge the suggestions.
  6. Review what has been learned with clients and help them develop an action plan. As was stated earlier, my clients have to agree to the basic steps in our process. On the other hand, outside of the basic steps, all of the other ideas that I share with my clients are I just ask them to listen to my ideas in the same way they are listening to the ideas from their key stakeholders. I then ask them to come back with a plan of what they want to do. These plans need to come from them, not me. After reviewing their plans, I almost always encourage them to live up to their own commitments. I am much more of a facilitator than a judge. I usually just help my clients do what they know is the right thing to do.
  7. Develop an ongoing follow-up process.Ongoing follow-up should be very efficient and focused. Questions like, “Based upon my behaviour last month, what ideas do you have for me for next month?” can keep a focus on the future. Within six months conduct a two- to six-item mini survey with key stakeholders. They should be asked whether the person has become more or less effective in the areas targeted for improvement.
  8. Review results and start again.If the person being coached has taken the process seriously, stakeholders almost invariably report improvement. Build on that success by repeating the process for the next 12 to 18 months. This type of follow-up will assure continued progress on initial goals and uncover additional areas for improvement. Stakeholders will appreciate the follow-up. No one minds filling out a focused, two- to six-item questionnaire if they see positive results. The person being coached will benefit from ongoing, targeted steps to improve performance.

While behavioural coaching is only one branch in the coaching field, it is the most widely used type of coaching. Most requests for coaching involve behavioural change. While this process can be very meaningful and valuable for top executives, it can be even more useful for high-potential future leaders. These are the people who have great careers in front of them. Increasing effectiveness in leading people can have an even greater impact if it is a 20-year process, instead of a one-year program.

People often ask, “Can executives really change their behaviour?” The answer is definitely yes. At the top of major organizations even a small positive change in behaviour can have a big impact. From an organizational perspective, the fact that the executive is trying to change anything (and is being a role model for personal development) may be even more important than what the executive is trying to change. One key message that I have given every CEO that I coach is “To help others develop – start with yourself!”

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)


How to Challenge Your Team & Take It to the Next Level

Challenge Your TeamI am passionate about helping executives and leaders become more successful and, in doing so, help others become more successful in turn.  As an accredited Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach (MGSCC) I would like to share with you a simple process which can deliver real tangible improvement in leadership effectiveness and organizational performance. I have also included a short video by Marshall Goldsmith that shares this process with you.

Let me share a story with you on how to Team Build Without Time Wasting.

A team was being coached as a group,. When asked to rate themselves they scored themselves, on average, as a 6.1. Each team member was asked to reflect on a challenge that he/she was currently having and  to share with the group. There were about 10 people and 6 focused on changing what they could not change. It was an epidemic! The team prioritized this behavior – to focus on what they could change and not what they could not -as the one to focus on in their team change efforts. Over the next six months, the group took part in the Team Building without Time Wasting process and I it is now a highly functional team, with members rating the team an 8.6!

Video:Team Build Without Time Wasting.

In the video above Marshall Goldsmith provides a brief overview of how this process works, and how you can use it for your own benefit.

Following are the steps the team took to change this endemic challenge of focusing on what they could not change. Note step 7. All of the steps are critical in the process, and step 7 is the one that will take your team to the next level – it is Follow-Up – and it will ensure that the change sticks!

  1. Ask all members of the team to confidentially record their individual answers to two questions:
    1. “On a 1 to 10 scale (with 10 being ideal), how well are we doing in terms of working together as a team?” and
    2. On a 1 to 10 scale, how well do we need to be doing in terms of working together as a team?”
  2. Have a team member calculate the results. Discuss the results with the team. If the team members believe that the gap between current effectiveness and needed effectiveness indicates the need for team building, proceed to the next step in the process.
  3. Ask the team members, “If every team member could change two key behaviors that would help us close the gap between where we are and where we want to be, which two behaviors we all should try to change?” Have each team member record his or her selected behaviors on flip charts.
  1. Help team members prioritize all the behaviors on the charts (many will be the same or similar) and (using consensus) determine the most important behavior to change (for all team members).
  2. Have each team member hold a one-on-one dialogue with all other team members. During the dialogues each member will request that his or her colleague suggest two areas for personal behavioural change (other than the one already agreed on above) that will help the team close the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
  3. Let each team member review his or her list of suggested behavioural changes and choose the one that seems to be the most important. Have all team members then announce their one key behavior for personal change to the team.
  4. Encourage all team members to ask for brief (five-minute), monthly three question “suggestions for the future” from all other team members to help increase their effectiveness in demonstrating 1) the one key behavior common to all team members, 2) the one key personal behavior generated from team member input, and 3) overall effective behavior as a team member.
  5. Conduct a mini-survey, follow-up process in approximately six months. From the mini-survey each team member will receive confidential feedback from all other team members on his or her perceived change in effectiveness. This survey will include the one common behavioural item, the one personal behavioural item, and the overall team member item. A final question can gauge the level of follow-up – so that team members can see the connection between their level of follow-up and their increased effectiveness.

This process works because it is highly focused, includes disciplined feedback and follow-up, doesn’t waste time, and causes participants to focus on self-improvement.

Let me close with a challenge to you (the reader) as a team leader. Try it! The “downside” is very low. The process takes little time and the first mini-survey will quickly show whether progress is being made. The “upside” can be very high. As effective teamwork becomes more and more important, the brief amount of time that you invest in this process may produce a great return for your team and an even greater return for your organization.

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found at Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)