First And Final Warning

Question:

I currently work as a level 2 nursery nurse. I often feel my room leader is bullying me. Lately she has brought several issues to my manager regarding my safeguarding of the children in my care, which has resulted in me being given a first and final warning. I was not informed prior to being called into the office or given the option to have my own witness. Both times I have been called into the office, my team leader has been taking notes. I wonder where I actually stand on this matter and what my rights are. I have been given 5 days to appeal.

Signed,

Final Warning


Answer:

DearĀ Final Warning:

You say you wonder “where you stand on this matter and what my rights are”. Employee rights are almost non-existent unless one is a member of a union or there is discrimination of a protected class, such as national origin, race, religion, sex, age, or disability. In a small workplace, rights hinge on the policies and practices that sometimes are listed in an organization’s handbook. At your nursery school inquire of your personnel office to learn what these are. Usually you are asked to sign a warning; that simply means you acknowledge receiving it. And you can submit a refutation that can be put in your file.

Some superiors behave as a sergeant or room monitor rather than as a supportive coach. You don’t provide examples of actual behavior of your room leader that appear to be bullying. But neither do you record incidents in which she has done things to help you better nurse the children. Her criticism of the way you fail to safeguard the children could be understood as coaching if it were given you in a supportive way, rather than as a report to your manager. From your description of your room leader, it seems she saw her job as one who was assessing your work.

Since I assume you need and want the job you now have and don’t want to be fired, you will have to decide if your room leader is malicious and bullying and if so, how to approach this problem. There likely is no way you can change her, but you can seek her help by complying with her suggestions and making her job easier. You’ll have to decide if that is what you want to do. Or you can “fight” her criticisms of you by defending yourself and attacking her. Likely this would only be viewed as defensive rather than as wanting to learn your job. Probably your best approach, short of seeking work elsewhere, for now is to pledge to correct what is incorrect and demonstrate your concern for those children assigned you. I assume you want to appeal; therefore, prepare an answer to the warning. Include your approach to caring for the children, credential training, and previous evaluations, if you have any. Approach this appeal as a continuous determination to learn, improve, and contribute to the good of the nursery. I don’t know your general demeanor, if you are have a pleasant smile or worried look, but now you are challenged to “save face”; your face and that of the room leader. So put aside that negative judgment of her as a bully and see her as you want her to be; a supportive supervisor. In your written and face-to-face appeal, see her and yourself as committed to providing high quality care. That might seem difficult in light of how stressed you feel, but is it not worth trying to see this warning constructively rather than antagonistically? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, as you know is my signature sentence if you have scanned our Q&As. That means putting the best face on this final warning.

William Gorden