Should I Say Others Have Left Early?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about leaving before quitting time:

I had horrible heartburn at work and was embarrassed to tell anyone, so I left five minutes early–and got caught. I accept that I got caught. However, this is an aberration and of course I would appreciate understanding of my situation. The supervisor corrected the time sheet for everyone to see. She did not tell me about the correction. (She did tell me that she noticed my leaving early) Thus, I heard the next day, from OTHERS, about how she corrected the time sheet.

The comments were supportive in that they think it was not the best way to be handled or that they think I shouldn’t have been docked. An oral warning the first time would have been enough. I don’t mind the docking so much, but the correcting in public seemed insensitive. The old line praise in public, criticize in private doesn’t seem to be in effect. She may not think anything of it, that it’s just a correction. But I felt it brought unwarranted attention to my situation. I am frustrated because many folks blatantly leave early almost every day. I don’t want to tattle tale, but am frustrated. I get caught for a one time aberration and this other behaviour goes on constantly. Thoughts? As always thanks for your time. I value this website immensely. It helps lots!

Signed, No Different Than Others

Dear No Different Than Others:

I don’t think you should say anything about other employees leaving early. If you had been bothered by it and said something before you got in trouble, that would be one thing. But to do it after you get in trouble only looks like you want to share the unhappiness. It doesn’t sound like something you’d want to do anyway! This will certainly remind you to get your supervisor’s approval before leaving early again. You could have gone to the bathroom to be more comfortable, or sat quietly at your desk, or asked your supervisor if she had antacids. I know you are aware of all of that.

The point is that no matter what the circumstances of others, or your own usual behavior, you did leave a few minutes early without permission. Let’s consider the action of marking your time sheet in front of others. I agree that is not a good way to handle it. She may have thought that would show other employees that she would take action if she caught someone doing the same thing.

One exception to “Praise in public, reprimand in private” is if a brief negative response in front of other employees will let them know a behavior is wrong. But that should be used very, very carefully. It doesn’t appear she did it in a useful way. I can imagine you feel frustrated, but it seems your best action now is to simply put it behind you and focus on work. Perhaps you will have the opportunity to express your thoughts to your supervisor and ask about why it was handled in such a way. Or, maybe you won’t be able to talk about it. In that case, you will likely have to accept it, as you apparently did, and move on.If you handle this in a good way, you may find your supervisor will doubly appreciate it. She may realize she didn’t handle her part of the situation very well!Best wishes as you deal with this. I’m glad you find our site helpful!

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.