Rise Performance Group

How Does a Leader Discipline a Team Member?


Shovel the Pile Early

How do you build a motivated team?  Hire motivated people and relentlessly remove demotivating factors.

A common demotivating factor is tolerating C players.  Good leaders turn B players into A players and immediately deal with anyone who is, or might become, a C player.

They do this by confronting non-compliance early and often.  Remember, you get what you tolerate!  As my mentor John Maxwell taught me, “shovel the pile early.”

Non-compliance to a Non-Negotiable

Pick your non-negotiables carefully.  For me, being late to meetings is a non-negotiable.  It indicates lack of discipline, is disrespectful to others, and will not be tolerated.

Let’s say someone is late to your meeting.  The first time they are late, pull them aside and let them know they are expected to be there on time.  You don’t need to know the reason.  You understand aberrations happen, however, make it clear you expect this person to be on time moving forward.

Shoveling the pile early will stop most non-compliant behavior dead in its tracks.  However, if it should happen again, pull them aside and let them know you are giving them a verbal warning and this behavior will not be tolerated.

If it happens a third time, follow your company’s disciplinary process which may include termination.

Does this sound too tough?  The key to building a healthy culture is to have a handful of rules, repeat them often and don’t tolerate non-compliance.

Culture is what is done, not what is said.  You can have a great vision and a bad culture will eat that vision for breakfast.  People follow good behaviors faster than they follow good words.

What about passive aggressive behavior?

You have undoubtedly encountered the person who is not giving you 100% of their effort.  You may even have one on your team now.  They do enough to get by but not enough to help build a culture of high performance.  In this case, harness the power of the intentional conversation.

  1. Call an intentional meeting. Don’t deal with this in passing, over lunch or part of a regular one-on-one.
  2. Start with three positive and relevant compliments. This reduces the risk of a defensive reaction.  Anyone can see what is wrong, leaders see what is right.
  3. Make it about you. Transition from your compliments with “I feel like you are not committed” rather than “You are not committed.” Don’t convict, rather share your perceptions.  The goal is to get this person bought-in; not have them become defensive.
  4. Be prepared to give an example. Occasionally the person will be in denial.  Have an example ready of the behavior creating concern.
  5. Actively listen.
  6. Summarize what you have heard.
  7. Ask the buy-in question – “What would it take to get you 100% committed.”
  8. Negotiate agreement and move forward.

Shovel the pile early.

A-players will respect you, your team will be motivated, and you will enjoy leading a high performing team.

Leave a Comment