Ouch to the Hot Stove Rule!

Ouch to the Hot Stove Rule

No, I have not decided to turn my blog into a recipe piece. Everyone who knows me will know that I’m as un-domesticated as one can get, so really, today’s topic is not about something in the kitchen but more to do with discipline and how to dish it out. (Yep, I can’t cook to save anyone but I can sure play with words, haha…)

Okay, so if we’re not cooking anything today, you may ask, what is the relevance of the Hot-Stove Rule then?

The Hot-Stove Rule is an illustration that a management professor, Douglas McGregor, concocted. Under this illustration, Professor McGregor, states that serving disciplinary actions to correct employee behaviour should be likened to touching a hot stove. When you touch a hot stove, the discipline should be immediate, with warning, consistent and impersonal.

Immediate. As you touch the hot stove, your fingers burn immediately and the cause and effect of such action is clear. Likewise, in discipline, management should provide immediate feedback on any employee wrongdoing. This highlights that the action was wrong and needs to be corrected.

With warning. With your own eyes, you can see beforehand that if you touch a hot stove, it will burn you. The flame or the red elements warn you that this is a “no touch zone”. In people management, most warnings are contained within an employee handbook. The handbook tells employees what actions are condoned (and not) within an organisation, and what punishment is laid when one does not abide by the rules.

Consistent. So no matter how many times you touch the hot stove, your fingers get burnt the same way, consistently. Discipline should be the same. The punishment for not abiding by a rule should be the same throughout.

Impersonal. If you touch a hot stove, it will burn you regardless of whether you are Harry or Harriet, rich or poor, ugly or good-looking. It really does not matter who you are. If one broke the rules, discipline is applied in the same way regardless of the perpetrator’s status in the company.

As you read through above, you see a pattern, don’t you?

In each factor, the discipline is focused on the behaviour and not on the person. This is likely the fairest and most reasonable way to manage people. Remember this when next you encounter a case study exam question on administering discipline and correcting behaviour.

For Astranti’s packages on the Enterprise pillar – see E1, E2, and E3
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