Verbal Warning

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a warning:

I received a verbal warning in writing because I went on break and forgot to tell someone that I had a termination that I needed additional information. All the paperwork was completed by 8:30 am. I went on break at 10:10 am. I put the paperwork in a file folder on my credenza waiting for the additional information. When I came back from break, I was told that the additional information came in and was in the process of being signed. I thanked the person who did it and continued on my other work.

Before I left to go home my supervisor came and handed me the verbal warning and said I should have told someone that I was working on a termination and that I should have waited to finish the termination paperwork and that someone else had to do my work. I explained that I had all the paperwork completed and printed with the exception of the 2 pieces of paper that needed the additional information. She said that the person had to p d done and complete the other paperwork and that I should have told someone that it was there. I again said that I forgot and that if it were me, I would have checked the person’s desk to see what they had completed.I have processed many terminations and this is the first time this has happened. I feel that it should not have been put in writing.

My supervisor said that the person involved was very upset. I went to apologize to them and they told me that did not know that all the paperwork had been completed that they thought that I did not do what I was suppose to do. My supervisor said that it is a rush and I should have told someone. I say if it was such a rush why did it take them so long to get me the additional information. When the score was taken the night before. I feel that all the information should be there when you are given a termination and that you should not have to wait several hours and than get a verbal/written warning because you didn’t tell someone. I c re in my handbook concerning warnings. But it states that we should work as a team.

I realize that I did forget to tell someone that the paperwork was there. But I was only gone for 15 minutes. I was told I should not have gone on my break. I feel it should have been told to me and not in writing in my personal file.I have been commended verbally on things that I have produced but I’ve never seen anything in writing. So why does the verbal warning need to be in writing?

Signed, Why In Writing?

Dear Why In Writing?:

You raise two questions: Was this error on your part serious enough to receive a warning? And if so, should that be presented to in writing? The answer to this first question, as you describe the situation, strikes me as deserving only an oral reminder. Yet your supervisor saw it as important. Therefore she decided to let you know that it will be in your file or at least if not in your permanent file, it would be noted. Therefore, since it is you can request that she also include your written explanation and apology. Obviously, this bothers you and your lengthy description of what occurred indicates you think it did not justify a written warning.Regarding your second question, should it be in writing, I don’t know what your organization’s policy book provides about the process of discipline. Perhaps it states that any warning that a supervisor gives should be noted–that a verbal warning should be recorded; as step one progressive discipline. If that is the case, your supervisor is following the rule.

Verbal usually is defined as face-to-face; however, verbal can also mean that a warning is put into words, words in writing. I recently answered a question on giving a verbal warning, possibly one that your supervisor wrote. Perhaps, if it were your supervisor, she wanted to learn how to do it correctly. Maybe she was trying to be very correct in the process. You can examine that exchange at Verbal Warning??? important thing now for you is not to obsess about this or to assume that your supervisor is malicious. If you do that, this incident can become a sour tape that worms in your mind and plays over and over until it affects the way you see other things she does in a negative way. Rather, I advise that you now most likely have said enough in your explanation to her and apology to the other party who was affected enough to complain (if I read you correctly, someone other than your supervisor was part of this situation).

So let it go now. The only other thing you might want to say to your supervisor, with a smile on your face, is that you will appreciate it if she also puts in writing verbal commendations. Actually, that can be a nice thing for her to do because to put something in writing elevates its importance. My feeling is that minor slip ups do not merit more than an oral reminder and that usual good performance does not merit more than a word of thanks or “Right on, brother/sister.” The issue now before you is one of attitude. I recommend that you make it a mental rule; to assume that what your supervisor and/or others do is well motivated. Such an attitude can make you less defensive or criticism and more positive in your working relationships. It can help to see your workplace a good place to work rather than one in which you and others are monitoring each other for mistakes. My signature statement emphasizes workers interdependent-mindedness: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Feel free to keep us posted. If these thoughts help, fine. If they don’t, may they prompt you to think more creatively.

William Gorden