Is A First Verbal Warning a Formal Action?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about verbal warning:

I had my 1st verbal warning. Is that a formal warning or informal? Now they make people redundant and on the scoring system. My company states you will be scored less points if you have not been on a formal warning on the last 7 to 1 years. My verbal warning lasts for six months and is no longer alive. Can they still hold this matter against me? Thanks.

Signed, First Warning

DearĀ First Warning:

I made several changes in the wording of your question to better understand it, but I’m still not sure I do. Apparently you are worried that this verbal warning can add to others you might get and consequently you could then be fired. I think you are asking three overlapping questions:
1. Does a verbal warning count as a formal warning?

2. How long does a verbal warning last?

3. Can they hold a warning against you even after six months when it is supposed to expire?Each of these questions is company-specific. There should be a policy book that explains your workplace’s disciplinary rules and also you should be able to speak with your supervisor and/or personnel office to request that they explain them to you. In some companies a verbal (oral) warning is interpreted as one warning, a written warning as a second, and a third written warning as the final that authorizes that you be fired. That is called a graduated three step warning process. From your brief note, I think you have some of the rules in mind but need to get them clarified in order to lessen your worry.My answer to your third question about can they hold this first warning against you even after it is no longer alive is: No they can’t officially. However, one’s boss and those who make personnel decision might not completely wipe the slate clean of how they assess your performance in their minds.

Your question signals that you are concerned about keeping your job, and that is good. Why not use this occasion of your first verbal warning as an opportunity to speak with the superior who gave it? Use it to say how you regret what you did or didn’t do that provoked the warning and that pledge your commitment to perform from now on the best you can. Also see this as a time to get instructions clear. Ask what, when, where, and how questions if you are uncertain about an assignment or process. Seek to understand how what you do is part of the larger organization. Make talk about talk important to understanding what you do and what are its standards for delivering quality goods or service to your work group’s internal and company’s external customers.

I don’t know how long you have been employed at this company. If not long, realize that you will make mistakes and it is the job of your boss to draw attention to them. That is the purpose of warnings. Think of your superior as one who wants you to succeed rather than fail. Think of doing good work that makes your boss’ job easier and more effective. Think of your job as not just a job to earn pay, but as learning how to work effectively in ways that can lead to a career where you are now employed or as a stage in your life in which you are sorting out what might be a career elsewhere.Learning the rules is part of a job no matter where you work. Someday you might be in a position in which you are the one who has to supervise and give warnings. See this experience as one that informs you about how the rules should be made fair, made clear, and made effective to those you might supervise. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my way of saying that I hope these few remarks send you on your way to worry less about this first warning and to encourage you to see the larger mission of your company; In short to worry less and to have a friendlier on the job day to day experience.

William Gorden