Verbal Warning

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about notifying of absences:

I’ve been given a verbal warning for not ringing in when off work, either sick or bad weather. I have called in but how do I prove that? My boss told me that this warning was for last year. Is there a time limit between an “offense” and the warning?

Signed, Warned

Dear Warned:

Happy New Year! You must resolve to always call in and to make sure your superior verifies that you have. The fact that you were told that the warning was from last year simply means your boss is counting from a certain time and she/he thought you needed a reminder.Warnings at your workplace probably can accumulate within a period from one performance evaluation to the next. That time might be three months, six months or one year. The difference between an offense and a warning should be spelled out in your handbook.

Your question suggests that you need a time-out session with your boss to learn what the warning means and when you can have it wiped off for responsible communication.How you can prove that you called in also is a topic that you need to discuss with your superior. You need to know how much ahead you need to call in, to whom you must speak, and how a call is recorded. You might need to ask if you can record this call because you want to make sure your boss gets it, such as: “This is Mary Jones. I need to speak with Stella Smith, my boss. He’s not available, you say. With whom then am I speaking? Dan? Dan, the roads are coated with ice and I am not coming in until they have been salted. That might make me late today. Will you tell my boss Stella Smith?” Rather than settle for a “Yes”, you can add, “So that I know you understand what I’ve said, would repeat what I said? Who do you understand is speaking with you? That’s right, I am Mary Jones. What did I tell you about the roads and when I will report in?”

Another way to be sure your call is heard is to make a second call and convey your message to a different person. Yet another way in addition to a call, is to say that you also are emailing in what you have just spoken on the phone. Emails have time and dates. Verbal is one channel. A phone is second-best to face-to-face and better than an airplane(HA) emergencies. Written messages shift the odds that a message will be overlooked or misunderstood to a more permanent status. That’s why policy books are written.

In your case, increasing the frequency with which you interact with your boss should improve the odds that you will be seen as a valued and responsible employee. Walk in your boss’s shoes. Think like he/she does for a few days, and even if you are very responsible now, you will be even more so. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that’s both what you and your boss want.

William Gorden