Xenophobic chaos: a table with only two legs

‘Just like a table, discipline topples if it doesn’t have four sturdy legs in place’
Issue date : 20 June 2008

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We’ve all heard of claustrophobia (the fear of confined spaces) and maybe even arachnophobia (the fear of spiders), but I wonder how many of us had heard of xenophobia before it hit the headlines a few weeks ago.

It comes from the Greek words xenos, meaning foreigner or stranger and phobos, meaning fear. While searching for its origin, discovered about 650 various phobias with gems such as caligynephobia – the fear of beautiful women, which guess few people suffer from and certainly not men, and the ultimate disqualification for chicken farming – alektorophobia – the fear of chickens.

But digress … the xenophobic attacks got me thinking about why they are happening and what lessons there are for management. And think it all comes down to one thing – discipline. If there had been discipline in the police, they would’ve stopped the illegal immigrants from streaming across our borders. there had been discipline at Home Affairs, legal immigrants and genuine refugees would’ve been processed promptly and documented.

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But the application of this discipline in the workplace depends on the four crucial disciplinary fundamentals being in place and everyone needs to know them. n SA, government probably beats most businesses hands-down in that all laws and regulations are greatly detailed.

The legal-speak may be cumbersome, but there’s no excuse for anyone not knowing the rules. equivalent in a business is the disciplinary code and procedure. Do you have one? Is it clear and concise and available to everyone? Does everyone in the organisation understand what it means? T he rules need to be fair and reasonable. With a democratically elected parliament having promulgated the laws of the land, we can’t fault government in this regard.

What about your disciplinary code? Has it been thoroughly debated and agreed upon with employee representatives at all levels? Without having done this, you will never be able to apply discipline effectively. he rules must apply equally to everyone. And here we have the seeds of our present xenophobic chaos being sown.

Many officials at Affairs are notoriously corrupt and incompetent. How about you? Has your organisation got the capacity to administer the rules of discipline without fear or favour? Are you able to ensure that all are equal before the “laws” of your organisation? he “laws” must be applied consistently.

Home Affairs and the police have been unable to do this and the chickens have come home to roost. you have the capacity in your organisation to quickly and consistently apply the rules; to nip the first signs of lack of discipline in the bud? If transgressors are dealt with promptly, harmony generally prevails. So, it’s simple. You need all four legs in place – government only has two and look at the mess! What about you? Is your disciplinary table also about to topple? – Peter Hughes ([email protected] or call (013) 745 7303).