Suspended For Two Weeks

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about suspension:

I have been a bartender for 3 years. About a year ago new manager was hired that knows another employee. Recently out of nowhere I get suspended for 2 weeks from my boss, saying I over pour, discussed meetings with other people, and served someone without an ID. I would never serve anyone w/out an ID and my theory as a bartender you hear no, see no, and say no. I just don’t understand. Does someone not like me? When I get back from suspension, what to do? I’m lost and don’t understand why this is happening to me? I have been an employee for a total of 5 years. Can you give me any advice?

Signed, Does Someone Not Like Me?

Dear Does Someone Not Like Me?:

You were accused of three “no-nos” and suspended. You say that two of these accusations are false. You don’t say if you “over pour”. Apparently this suspension came as a surprise. You are shaken and naturally are asking yourself questions that need to be answered: · Does someone not like me? · When I get back from suspension, what to do? · I’m lost and don’t understand why this is happening to me?” Your boss gave you three reasons for why you were suspended. In your description of this, there is no mention of previous warnings by your boss that you had poor performance. Lack of any warnings indicates that communication has not been good between the boss and you.What should you do? You should use these two weeks wisely. Don’t just mull over again and again whether someone dislikes you. Use this time off to review your performance and to ask your self if you have a future working at this particular bar and more importantly if bar tending is the kind of work you want as a career.

Take time to weight if this is a career of which you are capable, provides a good income, job security, and makes a valuable contribution. Or is this simply a job that you have found that is convenient and doesn’t demand special training for the kind of career you would really like if you had the motivation, education/skills, money and time to pursue? If you think through answers to such life-determining questions, you may find that your job of five years falls short and that there is more than just a little small voice that prompts you to make plans beyond just returning to this particular place of work and kind of job. These are more important questions than “Does someone not like me?” I you were not liked. You would not have been employed in this people-kind of job for five years, three of which have been tending bar. Now and when you return what you are asking is: Is there evidence that you “over poured, discussed meetings with other people, and served someone without an Id?”

You wonder who made these accusations two which you say are untrue, or at least are not acts you would intentionally commit. Rather than worry about who might have complained and defensively argue that you never did any of these, it is time that you have a serious conversation with your boss. In that, what your boss will want to learn is your sense of commitment to high quality performance and that if ever you were guilty of the reasons given for suspension, they were unintentional.

During this conversation, you might frankly ask the boss what evidence there was that you failed in any of the ways given for suspension. But there is no point in an argument of “I didn’t” vs. “You did.” This is where you should say to the boss, “My theory as a bartender [is} you hear no, see no, and say no.” Also in this conversation there should be an opportunity for you to frankly ask your boss if you are liked and if there is a future for you working there. In short, when you meet with him/her, you need to commit to being a responsible bar tender. Ask for spelling out the specifics of size of servings and any other rules that you are to enforce. And this is the time to talk about talk with your boss; saying that you want to keep the channels of communication open and frequent–that you want to talk with him/her about how well you are doing the job and ways you might be the best bar tender your customers could ever expect.

When you return some coworkers may want to know why you were suspended. You will have to decide if you want to frankly tell them. Your boss might advise you on what to say to coworkers. I hope these thoughts make sense and help you make the most of your suspension. Will you see this as a learning experience? Please feel free to update me on your thinking and on how it goes once you return. My signature sentence: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is not just a slogan. It speaks to the kind of workplace where cheering each other on is the rule and where everyone knows your name.

FOLLOW UP: Yes you did help me out a lot thank you. I do have another question. When I get back from suspension next week, I want to talk to my boss first. Is that what you think I should do? Then again I don’t know the appropriate words to say to my boss to let him know how seriously I do appreciate my job and I don’t want to lose it? What do you think?

Reply: Yes, talk with your boss. Likely you will be told to do the job you had before you were suspended. But you might say, “When you have a few minutes today, I want to talk with you.” Your boss might respond, “OK, talk now.” If you are not in a private space, you could then say, “Could we talk in your office?”You don’t have to have exact words, but it is good to think through what you want to say. Take time before you return to write out a list of three or four questions that you really want answered. First you might say what you have in your note, “Jan, (or what ever is his/her name) being suspended has made me think about how seriously I appreciate my job and I don’t want to lose it. I want to earn my pay and to help our company be successful. I’ve worked here for ______ years and this is the first time I’ve been suspended. You probably think I should know why, but I am still not quite sure. I was told it was due to work-related stress. Does that mean you thought I am not doing my job the way you think I should?” After your boss replies, you might follow up with, “Do you have suggestions for how I need to improve?” Listen and repeat what you are told. Don’t defend your self. Rather respond for clarification if necessary.

Most of all, you might say, “Please help me prove that I’m doing my job correctly. Is it ok to talk to you like you were my coach, such as, “Jan, how am I doing?’?Because you might still wonder about what changing your annual leave to suspension means, you might ask, “What does it mean to have my annual leave changed to suspension? Can you explain that or do I need to meet with Human Resources? Will suspension be on my record as disciplinary action, such as if I were insubordinate or incompetent?” I hope these thoughts help. Of course use your own words. MORE

FOLLOW UP: I have another question are they able to switch my days and hours just because I was suspended. Also what should I tell my customers and other employees why I was gone for two weeks because everyone is going to ask? I’m just asking your opinion. Thank you

Reply: I can see you are still worried about your return from your suspension. Question 1: are they able to switch my days and hours just because I was suspended? Answer: Obviously the can and did. You must understand that unless you work under a contract that stipulates such things as job description, hours, vacation, etc. etc., management can do what it pleases as to discipline. My co-workplace Doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe’s most recent answer to a question on a topic clearly states this: Can I Be Disciplined For Arguments Away From Work? http://workplacedoctors.com/wpdocs/qdetail.asp?id=3881 . The hard fact is that most employees these days work under a “fire at will” rule; that is to say, you can quit with for a reason or no reason and your employer can fire you for a reason or no reason. That is why workers organize and form unions–to get in writing a contractual agreement regarding working rules.Question 2: What should I tell my customers and other employees why I was gone for two weeks because everyone is going to ask? Answer: You have a choice–to evade the question and change the subject or to say, “The important thing is I am back and glad to do my job” or to say, “Ask the manager” or to simply say what you were told, that you were suspended because the manager said, “I over pour, discussed meetings with other people, and served someone without an Id.” You will have to choose, but I advise that you don’t talk about why more than to very briefly answer. Above all don’t criticize your boss, roll your eyes, or defensively say, “The stupid boss suspended me.” As I advised before, your suspension has given you time to rethink if you want to spend your life tending bar. If you do, it is time to get really good at it and to plan ahead so that you can work in a place that respects you and your work. So for now, return and impress your new manager as someone who is the best possible employee. Follow the rules. Make your manager’s job easy. Be of good spirits. My best to you. If you find time, let us know what happens when you return.

William Gorden