Can Manager In Training Give A Verbal Warning?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about warnings:

I would like to know if a manager-in-training is allowed to give a verbal warning?

Signed, Wondering

Dear Wondering:

There may be varying rules in different organizations, but in reality one cannot learn to fulfill the role of a manager without doing it, so managers in training must do the work of a manager-which would include work-related warnings if needed. (It is like being a teacher, doctor or salesperson in training. The only way to learn is to do.)

Most management trainee programs use such things as employee counseling or correction as part of the training. For example, if the verbal warning was justified the manager-in-training might receive approval for his or her willingness to confront problems and deal with them effectively. Or, the trainee might be told a verbal warning was not strong enough action or that no warning should have been given at all.That’s assuming that the verbal warning was significant enough that it was reported to a higher level manager. In most management training programs the trainee would likely talk it over with a higher level manager before taking action, unless the matter was an emergency.

I’m thinking you were given a verbal warning by a manager who is still in training. If it was minor, it will probably be best to let it go and move on, correcting the things you were warned about. If you feel it was unfair and the matter is significant perhaps you can discuss it further with your manager or with the person above that level.I teach many managers who are in training and one of the things I remind them about is that they are practicing their knowledge and skills on people not things. So, if they are not effective as a new manager, they may later laugh and say they improved a lot over time. But the person they were practicing on may have been made angry, hurt or discouraged in a way that is lasting.

I hope that is not the case in your situation. If it was, try to keep the perspective that, just as when you were learning your work, your manager may not be as expert as optimal. If you can find a way to stay positive and overall supportive you may find you can be a positive influence in his or her maturity in the role–no matter what his or her actual age. Dr. Gorden’s signature word is WEGO–which is to say that working together to improve our workplaces and our work life can benefit all of us. Best wishes to you in this situation!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.