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When we were kids, we often got in trouble because of being guilty by association. If you hung out with a bad crowd and they got in trouble, then you likely got in trouble. Well, we’re not on the playground any more so why would you, as the leader of a team, punish the entire team when only one person did the dirty deed… or behavior that warranted punishment.

Contagious Leaders punish the person, not the team.It’s Easier

While it may be easier for you to throw down the gauntlet for the entire team when something goes wrong, it can punish those high performers in ways that you can never undo. Don’t take the easy route and dole out mass punishment. Take the time to pinpoint who done it and deliver the consequences to that person. Even if you don’t know who did it, find out. Chances are the other employees all know and will resent you for not trying hard enough to find out what they know if you make them all suffer.

It Sends a Message

Sure it does: you’re lazy, you’re not interested in finding the truth, you don’t have time to really care, you lack effective communication skills to ask the questions to uncover the truth, you’re more focused on you versus them… and any number of other lovely messages. Those are likely NOT the messages you want to send and if they are, and if you take this route, just be prepared to feel, hear and see some of those same messages pointed at you from the employees you lead.

It’s Less Time Consuming

This might be true, but consider your options. 1) spend time with each team member to determine who actually is the guilty party for not getting whatever was to have been done- done and then deliver the appropriate consequences to the one or two folks or 2) deliver discipline to the entire team and then spend weeks dealing with slower productivity from team members who can’t believe they got in trouble for doing nothing wrong and are now taking that out on you, other team members, customers, and their own productivity, from that point forward. Hmmm… days or weeks… ?

Discipline and criticism are never easy to deliver, yet as a leader, they are an important part of guidance. As human beings, we often test our boundaries and if we never learn when we have crossed the line then we are never able to focus our attention on the desired path that will lead us to success. Also, the bigger issue might be that NOT delivering any discipline, punishment or critiscim is contagious as all get out because it will spread a feeling throughout the team that “if he can get away with it, then so can I”. Again, human nature. What one does rubs off on those around us. We’re all contagious.

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