An Unfair Warning

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about warning:

I was unfortunately not well and was unable to cover my shift at the petrol station where I am employed. My husband telephoned other workers, manageress etc to get cover. I was unable to move and was violently sick. The verbal warning states that the garage had to be closed for the 5hrs of my shift, as I had not given enough notice to get cover. Also in the written verbal warning, they have said I have been aggressive to the managers’ son.

That is false. He tried to get me to work today although I work alternate Mondays, and I worked last Monday. They then continued by saying I do not stock shelves and let everyone down. This is unfair and untrue as I am quiet often doing 10 to 12hr straight shifts with no break in between. Please could you tell me were I stand as I have been signed off work for a week due to a chest infection, and upon the receipt of my doctor’s note, I received a verbal warning. I think this is wrong to nitpick at my ability and my work. As I am an employee not a manageress, it is not my fault that the garage has been closed.

Signed, Warned

Dear Warned:

Communication between you and your company has been frustrating; probably for both those who manage and especially for you. The question before you is: Can you get past this unhappy boss-bossed relationship? Unless and until you can earn management’s trust and respect, you such events as this will fester and infect other points of difference; and you will feel nit pecked over minor things. Sooooo is there any way to build goodwill rather than ill will?

First, might you put yourself in your manager’s shoes rather than defend yourself? That will be uncomfortable because you are sure you are not at fault and they are. But a step toward building goodwill is to rid yourself of presuming that your manager and son mean you harm. One way to get on the best side of even those who misjudge you is to assume that their intentions are good rather than bad. A mind that presumes the best seeks to empathize with others, to understand the things that prompted their actions.

Second, put some goodwill into your bank account held by your manager. How? By praising her/him for being concerned about doing things that make your company look good; they wanted the place to be open and they care. If they were not on top of such lapses, your workplace loses money and if it fail to make money that hurts everyone employed there, and that includes you. The fact that you work 10-12 shifts with no break should be evidence of earning good will if that were known. And although you need not boast of that, it would be good to mention that when you respond to criticism for not stocking shelves and are accused of letting everyone down. What have you suggested to cut wasted supplies, effort, electricity, and costs? If you think as you might if you were owner, you will come up with ways to improve productivity and to better please internal and/or external customers.

Third, use this warning to establish active communication. By that, you might begin with talking with your boss about what he/she wants to hear from you and how often; about your assignments, ideas for improving how things are done, etc. The issue of when to check in with him/her each day and how to check out also are important to a boss. Do you have an established time each day or week to review assignments and how things are going? How should you respond to a warning and criticism? Might it be good to talk about how that might be a learning experience and less antagonistic? In short, talk about talk is a way to build good connections.

Fourth, being present. Sickness apparently has been and is a problem for you. This is a topic that has caused you to call off work (or have your husband do so) and then you had to get a doctor’s note stating you were ill. Worry about warnings adds stress to being physically ill. Might it be time for you to plan to be well? Are you exhausting yourself and failing to get enough sleep? Do you take time to eat a good breakfast? Do you smoke, overeat, and have other habits that make illness easily find you? I don’t want to sound like your mother, but do take time to mother yourself and if you don’t have a healthy way of life, start working on that. Finally, don’t obsess about these warnings. Don’t complain to your husband or friends about them more than once. That will only make them worse. If you need to complain write us again. I will read and respond. My signature sentence suggests a positive way to cope and to help shape your workplace: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. What might that sentence mean for you?

William Gorden