How To Discipline A Coworker In 6 Steps

Written By Aleena

A good leader knows how to discipline a coworker when they are being disrespectful or unproductive. There are several ways you can do this; below are some:

Discipline is necessary for any work environment. It ensures employees behave and perform their duties properly. Unfortunately, there will be times when you need to discipline a coworker.

6 Steps To Discipline A Coworker

Here are some tips for disciplining a coworker that is being problematic:

1. Set Clear Expectations: 

Be clear with your coworker about what is expected of them.

Expectations should be realistic and attainable. You should communicate them clearly and concisely.

Ensure they understand the consequences if those expectations are not met.

How To Discipline A Coworker

If your coworker is not meeting your expectations, discuss it with them.

If they continue not meeting expectations, you may need disciplinary action.

Some ways to set expectations include:

– Creating job descriptions

– Writing performance reviews

– Holding regular meetings, etc.

2. Provide Feedback:

Set clear expectations, and you should also provide regular feedback to your coworker.

This can be through regular meetings and performance reviews. Also, you can give them feedback when they do something that is not up to par.

It is essential to be specific with your feedback to know exactly what they need to work on.

Feedback should be actionable and constructive. Please focus on the positive aspects of their work.

3. Talk With Them: 

Before taking any of these steps, it is vital to discuss with your coworker about their behavior.

This will allow them to improve their behavior before any disciplinary action.

During this discussion, you should explain why their behavior is problematic. Also how it impacts the team.

It would help if you also listened to any concerns or feedback they may have.

If they cannot improve their behavior, you may need to take some disciplinary action.

4. Give Consequences:

If your coworker is not meeting your expectations, you may need to give them consequences.

Consequences should be proportionate to the infraction. They should motivate individuals to change their behavior.

Some possible consequences include:

– Verbal warning

– Written warning

– Suspension

– Termination

5. Be Consistent:

It is essential to be consistent when disciplining your coworker.

Your coworkers need to know that there will be consequences if they behave in a certain way.

Failing to follow through on your disciplinary action can undermine the authority of your position as a leader.

It is also important to handle each situation reasonably and with respect.

This means treating all employees consistently. Avoid discriminatory treatment based on personal factors.

You can ensure that your team is productive and respectful by following these tips.

6. Follow Up: 

Once you have given your coworker a consequence, follow up with them. Ensure they change their behavior.

Some ways to do this are through regular meetings and performance reviews.

How To Discipline A Coworker (2)(1)

If your coworker is not improving, you may need additional disciplinary action.

However, if they are making progress, acknowledge their efforts and provide positive feedback.

By following these tips, you can help improve the productivity and behavior of your team.

When To Discipline A Coworker

There are a few critical times when you may need to discipline a coworker:

1. When They Are Disrespectful:

If your coworker is disrespectful, it is essential to address the issue.

Disrespectful behavior can include:

– Speaking harshly

– Making demeaning comments

– Rolling their eyes.

This type of behavior can create a hostile work environment. It can affect your team’s productivity.

It is vital to address the issue as soon as possible to combat this.

2. When They Are Not Meeting Expectations:

If your coworker is not meeting your expectations, you may need disciplinary action.

This could include giving them verbal or written warnings, suspension, or even termination.

Some ways to identify if they meet your expectations are through:

– Regular meetings

– Performance reviews, etc.

3. When They Are Affecting The Team:

If your coworker’s behavior impacts the team, it is essential to address the issue.

This could be in the form of disruptive behavior or not meeting deadlines.

One person’s behavior can significantly impact the performance of an entire team. Thus it is crucial to address the issue as soon as possible.

Moreover, by disciplining a coworker, you can help them improve their behavior. Thus, you can ensure the team’s productivity.

4. When They Are Breaking The Rules:

If your coworker is breaking company rules, it is essential to take immediate action.

This could be in the form of coming in late or leaving early. Or engaging in other problematic behaviors.

company rules

It is crucial to discipline your coworkers as soon as possible. This way, you can avoid further infractions and protect the company.

5. When They Are Not Following Policies:

If your coworker is not following your company’s policies, it is a serious concern.

This could include breaking safety rules and using inappropriate language in the workplace. Or even stealing company property.

Take disciplinary action immediately to protect the company and your team.

6. When They Are Causing Conflict:

A conflict in the workplace can be detrimental to productivity. If your coworker is causing conflict, solve it as soon as possible.

This could involve having one-on-one meetings to address the issue. Or even escalating it to your supervisor  data-preserver-spaces=”true”>if needed.

By disciplining a coworker causing conflict, you can protect your team.

7. When They Are Engaging In Discrimination:

If your coworker is engaging in discriminatory behavior, address it immediately.

This could include mistreating someone based on their age, race, or gender. This can create a hostile work environment and impact productivity.

It is essential to confront your coworker as soon as possible to resolve the issue.

8. When They Are Breaking Confidentiality:

A coworker breaking company rules by sharing confidential information is an issue.

This could include leaking trade secrets or sensitive client information to the public. Or even sharing private documents within the workplace.

It is essential to take disciplinary action as soon as possible to protect your team and the company.

9. When They Are Underperforming: 

If your coworker is underperforming, it is a severe issue.

improve their performance.

This could include not meeting deadlines or completing work to an acceptable standard.

When someone underperforms, it can negatively impact the entire team. Thus, it is vital to address this issue as soon as possible.

Disciplining underperforming coworkers can help them improve their performance.

Consequences Of Not Disciplining A Coworker

If you do not discipline a coworker, it can lead to several consequences.

1. The Issue Will Not Go Away: 

If you do not address the issue, it will not go away. It is likely to get worse over time.

Some symptoms of this could include lower productivity. Also, they can be conflicts in the workplace.

If you fail to discipline a coworker, it can have adverse effects on your team and the company.

2. It Will Hurt Team Morale: 

By not disciplining a coworker, you will message that their behavior is acceptable.

This can decrease team morale. Employees may feel that their concerns are not being addressed.

Team morale is crucial for productivity. It is essential to discipline your coworkers when necessary.

3. It Will Jeopardize Company Image: 

If you do not address the issue of a coworker, it can damage your company image.

This could include harming customer satisfaction or even resulting in legal action.

Additionally, it may reflect poorly on you as your team leader.

Thus, it is crucial to discipline problematic coworkers quickly to avoid these consequences.

4. It Can Lead To Trouble With The Law: 

If you fail to take action if a coworker breaks the law, this could result in legal trouble.

For example:

You may get sued for allowing discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

legal trouble.

Failing to address safety violations or leaking trade secrets could also get you in trouble with the law.

It is essential to discipline problematic coworkers to protect yourself.

5. It Can Result In Employee Turnover: 

Finally, by not disciplining a coworker, lose valuable employees.

It means that your team is not being fairly treated and that they do not feel supported by management. 

If you want to retain top talent and avoid turnover, you need to address disciplinary issues.

6. It Can Lead To Loss Of Revenue: 

In some cases, not disciplining a coworker can even lead to a loss of revenue. For example, if your company gets sued for discrimination.

Or if a competitor learns about your trade secrets. They can use them to gain an edge in the marketplace.

It is crucial to take disciplinary action to avoid these consequences.

7. It Can Lead To You Losing Your Job: 

If you do not discipline a coworker and the issue continues, you could lose your job.

That means that you would be responsible for your coworker’s actions.

So, if you want to protect your position, it is crucial to take disciplinary action as soon as possible.

8. It Can Impact Your Career:

Additionally, not disciplining a coworker can also impact your career. For example, you may be seen as a poor leader or ineffective manager.

It will also reflect poorly on your leadership skills. Also, it can make it more challenging to advance in your career.

It is important to take disciplinary action to protect your professional reputation.

Thus, it is crucial to discipline problematic coworkers quickly to avoid these consequences.

There are many consequences of failing to discipline a coworker, which can be severe.


There are many steps to take to discipline a coworker.

The key is to set clear expectations and provide regular feedback. Also, have an open discussion with them about their behavior.

If they continue to misbehave despite these efforts, take disciplinary action.

Finally, it is essential to follow up with your coworker after giving them a consequence.

Ensure that they are improving their behavior and meeting your expectations.

With these tips, you can effectively discipline a problematic coworker. 

Last Updated on 1 year by Shahzaib Arshad


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