Policies can be good or bad but are generally processes and modes of handling situations when they arise. All organizations have policies and procedures that help them understand and guide work behaviors. In most cases the punishments are punitive by nature and should be used with great care to ensure the end result is positive. It is necessary to have a human element and checks/balances to ensure decisions are accurate and based on sound logic.
The most common disciplinary method is progressive by nature and includes threats of termination that can be less effective than structured achievements in meeting goals (Miller, 2014). There are times when the standard punish all that come across the managers desk doesn't work. The approach is counter intuitive and can sometimes lead to lost capital.
There is no such thing as perfect policies and procedures as they consistently run a course and don't often include a value judgement. Ensuring appropriate checks and balances along with human intervention can make a difference in the eventual outcome. Without that intervention the organization could be hurting itself in the long run.
I worked in labor relations for a number of years and I could not count the amount of times an angry manager came with spotty evidence of poor performance and demanded either termination or heavy discipline. Their anger and behaviors were based more in their perception and personality than in any employee violation.
When both sides of the argument was heard and a little time in understanding the "facts" of the case was invested it was the managers who needed discipline. Training was weak, policies were enforced subjectively, there were multiple complaints, turn over was high, customer satisfaction was low, and despite all this the manager continued to rant and rave.
We know that employees can be wrong and in most cases a good dose of discipline is helpful; but it isn't always helpful. If the employee was following what was expected by the culture of a department, manager's poor direction, did what was logical based on the training available, and sought to do his/her job, punishment is counter intuitive and destructive.
Unfortunately the "hot shot" manager sometimes continues down his/her path with all the executive support they need because they know how to play the metrics game. This is where they look good on paper but inadvertently rip the fabric of the department apart. People lose trust, leave, and move into defensive mode. The managers incessant need to be right and in control takes its toll.
A few years later and it becomes apparent how poor the manager actually was. All the skill, knowledge, and resources lost on poor management and improper applications of policies & procedures. X should not always result in Y. High performance disciplinary processes should always seek to understanding first, apply discipline when appropriate, seek routes to positively reinforce positive behavior, and make human judgement calls when the policies don't work.
Miller, L. (2014). Its time to rebrand progressive discipline to structured achievements. The Journal of Medical Practice Management, 29 (5).