Disciplining is part of a DOM’s job. Discipline is effective when its application eliminates the need for it in the future. Effective discipline gets results. But we should never apply discipline without also giving an explanation and providing instruction or correct behavior.

Effective disciplining can get results without making people angry. Here are some ways you can discipline effectively:

1. Get all the facts before you say or do anything

Disciplining someone is a serious matter. We don’t want to make the mistake of disciplining the wrong employee or of taking unwarranted action.

2. Consider each incident separately

Circumstances vary and people are different in their thoughts, motives and deeds. We may not be able to apply a standard type of discipline for the specific incident.

3. Maintain control

We must not lose our temper. We should never attempt to discipline when there is a possibility that emotion rather than reason is controlling our thinking.

4. Be consistent

We need to enforce the rules of conduct and behavior with the same degree of strictness in every case. Being rough with one employee and gentle with another for the same infraction leads to nothing but displeasure and unrest.

5. Have set rules concerning discipline for common incidents

When penalties for failure to comply with rules are made known to everyone, people know what discipline to expect. The disciplined employee knows that the supervisor’s personal factors were not involved in his or her discipline.


Deciding what disciplinary action we should impose for breaking a rule may be difficult if the company has not established penalties for specific rule infractions. We are forced to decide between discipline that is too severe to be fair and discipline that is too mild to be corrective. Here are questions which when answered will help us choose the most appropriate action:

• How serious was the rule infraction?

• What were the circumstances?

• How long has the employee been with the company?

• What is the employee’s past conduct record?

• When was the last time the employee required discipline?

• What is the discipline usually administered for this rule infraction?

Companies that have severe personnel behavioral problems have a common procedure of taking a “cooling off” period after a serious rule infraction before imposing discipline. Better decisions have resulted when time is taken for more investigation, reasoning and thought before deciding on the proper discipline.


A discipline program can be effective only if it is uniform, corrective and progressive. Each feature is of equal importance in getting results.

1. Uniform Program

Uniform programs prevent the imposition of different discipline for the same offense. Without a guideline, one supervisor might issue a written warning for fighting in the hangar while another might suspend the guilty individual for two or three days. A spelled-out and understood penalty for fighting prevents such inconsistency.

2. Corrective Discipline

Corrective discipline defines what proper conduct is and gives the individual the opportunity to correct his or her improper conduct. This discipline also warns other employees that improper conduct or the breaking of company rules will not be tolerated and will subject guilty individuals to disciplinary action.

3. Progressive Discipline

Progressive discipline is a procedure that provides for increasing the severity of the discipline with repeated offenses. A typical procedure might be an oral warning for the first offense, written warning for the second, a one-day suspension for the third, a five-day suspension for the fourth and discharge for the fifth.


Most supervisors dislike disciplining their people. However, supervisors who have been successful at disciplining report that the job is easier and the discipline is better accepted if they are noted for handling it expertly and fairly. Here are some ways you can attain that reputation yourself:

• Make sure there’s a good reason for every rule you enforce. If the reason for a rule isn’t obvious, be sure to explain it to everyone who might be involved.

• Eliminate or avoid unnecessary rules wherever you can.

• Review departmental policy from time to time to see if all of the rules are still needed.

• Ask for the help of your people when formulating new rules.

• Never adopt a rule simply to show your rank or authority.

• Before disciplining, always give an individual an opportunity to tell you his or her side of the story.

• Consider and study your company’s labor agreement before taking disciplinary action with a member of the union.

• When imposing discipline, be careful to give fair and equal treatment to all.

• View discipline primarily as a training function.

J.D. McHenry is the President of Global Jet Services. He has been involved in numerous aviation maintenance and flight operation programs for more than 31 years. His background includes aircraft manufacturer, corporate flight operations, FAR 91 & 135 operations, aircraft management, repair stations, and fixed base operation. He holds and A&P, IA and Doctorate of Business Management. Global Jet Services goal is to lead the way in aviation maintenance training standards. Global Jet Services and FlightSafety International are business partners offering the “Shared Resources” program. For more information, visit www.GlobalJetServices.com.

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