Criticism and Discipline in the Workplace

According to Karlsson et al (2011), delivering appropriately disciplinary action, criticism, or feedback to solve problems of performance of employees effectively can be tricky and difficult for even experienced managers. When it comes to disciplining and criticizing employees, many mangers retreat. This is because of the fear of inevitable confrontation after telling the employees that they need to change way of working, attitude and behavior. Sullivan & Decker (2009) observed that by a physician leader avoiding criticism or disciplining the team members, the problem can damage the team member’s moral, undermine the manager’s authority and fuel conflict amongst the team members.

Karlsson et al (2011) pointed out that a constructive criticism planned and delivered properly can result to an improved performance. Furthermore, discipline is not about dismissing an employee, but it is all about development as asserted by Sullivan & Decker (2009). Instilling discipline is a task necessary for the physician leader as much as it is time consuming. Conflicts may crop up amongst physicians, staff, health care team, patients or even the family of the patient. This can result in employee turnover and consequently limit the contributions of the staff and hinder efficiency.

According to Karlsson et al (2011), positive discipline creates appropriate behavior in the health care facility by encouraging the health care staff participation. The physician leader should lay out ethical guidelines and a clear protocol in the first step for the physicians and the nurses to understand fully what is expected. Secondly, the physician leaders should apply constructive criticism in the hospital to instill correct behaviors.

Positive reinforcement is an important factor in positive discipline. It motivates the health care professionals to comply with the standard and protocol of the hospital. The physician leader might be worried that being soft to the physicians and the nurses will encourage negative behaviors. However, promotions, bonuses, rewards and other positive reinforcements will align their interest with the healthcare and inspire them to work harder (Sullivan & Decker, 2009).

On the other hand, Karlsson et al (2011) explains that negative discipline comprise some form of punishments such as demotion, negative criticism, suspension, wage loss and termination. The physician leader should not opt for negative discipline as it will make the health care employees feel they are perpetually being attacked. However, Sullivan & Decker (2009) suggested that the leader of the healthcare facility should not hesitate from using negative discipline in situations of unsafe or illegal conduct of the physician or the nurse, such as negligence, violence, sexual harassment or failure to adhere to safety protocols that are vital.

Positive discipline maintains a happy work place and fosters desirable behaviors. The physician leader should engage and motivate the physician, nurses and other health care employees often. He/she should strive to create understanding and high functioning employees that comply with the workplace directives and follow protocols.

In summary, Sullivan & Decker (2009) suggested that the physician leader should follow a well defined process of disciplinary for the healthcare employees to improve. They should identify the problem, analyze, discuss with employee, document and follow up on measures they both commit.


Karlsson, J., & Palgrave Connect (Online service). (2011). Organizational misbehaviour in the workplace: Narratives of dignity and resistance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sullivan, E. J., & Decker, P. J. (2009). Effective leadership and management in nursing. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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