Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart
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Take luck out of the equation

You have critical night shifts in your organization. These are “awake at night” shifts where sleeping is not allowed. Lives could be at risk if certain actions are not taken quickly in response to certain situations.

A major incident takes place, exacerbated because the person on shift had fallen asleep. Had the employee been awake, there would have been little or no incident. The fact that the person was asleep and very slow to intervene, resulted in a very serious situation.   A resident was seriously injured, emergency services had to be called, and the person’s supervisor had to attend to the scene.

Here’s the question: What should the discipline be?

The discipline should be exactly the same as if the person was found to be sleeping at work and no incident had occurred.

As leaders we cannot rely on luck to ensure we get results. If we allow people to sleep when sleeping is not allowed and then only discipline when something goes wrong, we are sending all the wrong signals. That signal being, it is okay to sleep as long as nothing goes wrong. The signal needs to be “we do not accept sleeping on “awake at night” shifts, period.”

clover field
Photo by Iris C.

It is a natural conclusion that if we do not condone sleeping on the job that the punishment for falling asleep on the job is the same whether something goes wrong or not. If we only deal with the negative consequences of the behavior, not the behaviour driving the consequences, we are doing nothing to improve the overall performance of the team.

We are simply relying on luck.

Great leaders discipline bad behaviour, not bad results.