Two Verbal Warnings

Question:

I got a group verbal warning by a supervisor that was authorized by a manager, but the whole group is being disciplined for the same thing by a more senior manager again. We have learnt our lesson by the verbal warning. Is it right to be punished twice?

Signed,

Double Trouble


Answer:

Dear Double Trouble:

A warning is made to prevent repetition of wrong acts. You learned. That’s what matters. Repeating a warning to one’s group re-emphasizes the importance of a warning. Sooooo repetition re-enforces what was to be learned. Right? Now suppose a supervisor apologized to you for making a mistake. You would appreciate that. Right? Further suppose, she/he apologized to the whole group for that mistake. Would you would not think that was unfair? No, you would think that was extra right. You asked the rhetorical question: “Is it right to be punished twice?” Expecting whoever read you question to say YES. You don’t say what was the punishment. Was the repeated verbal warning like spanking with words? Of course I don’t know. What matters is learning how to make corrections that gain the support of the individuals who made the wrong act. Ideally, a warning is an invitation not to place blame and shame, but to enlist responsibility for that wrong act and gain cooperation in problem solving. As one who was warned, you could help your supervisor by responding, “Dan, (or whatever is her/his name) thank you for bringing that to my attention, I’ll fix it and we’ll not be troubled with that again.” Sure to be punished twice seems unfair and it is good you have a sense of fairness, but don’t focus on that. Focus on improved communication and understanding what needs to be done to prevent mistakes and/or intentional lack of needed action that add value to your workplace. Be proactive in that way; doing what makes less work for your supervisor, doing what supports your coworkers, and doing what enhances the quality of goods and service to your customers. Think big. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Does this make sense?

**************************** Additional comment by Tina Lewis Rowe Often Dr. Gorden and I add to the response of the other one, so I’ll do that in this case. You don’t say what the higher level manager is doing as discipline, but it sounds to me as though it is more than a warning–or maybe it is another warning, only more severe.

This sometimes happens when the actions by a lower level manager is viewed by those higher as not being strong enough for the infraction. Or, it may be that the senior manager doesn’t have confidence that your manager was clear about how wrong the employees were and what would happen in the future.

I have experienced the same thing you mention and felt somewhat the same way. I felt that we were being chewed out twice or even three times, instead of letting us move on and get past the problem. But, looking back on it, I think the senior manager just wanted to make sure we knew he was upset and would take strong action next time.

If this second discipline is actually a sanction of some kind and more than a warning, it could be that the senior manager did not agree with your manager, or that organizational rules required a more severe reaction than just a verbal warning.

Also, consider what might be going on behind the scenes between your direct manager and the senior manager. This might have as much to do with their working relationship as it does anything else.

Best wishes as you deal with this. Work to stay

positive and keep working at demonstrating the highest quanity and quality of performance and behavior. TR

William Gorden