Written Up For Poor Judgment

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about write up for no reason:

If I am temporarily in charge, how can I be written up for a poor decision if I did not break any policies?

Signed, Charged While In Charge

Dear Charged While In Charge:

It sounds as though you were put in charge temporarily (filling in for a supervisor or manager) and something you did was considered by those higher up as being poor judgment for your role. You feel that since you didn’t violate any policies you shouldn’t have been reprimanded about your actions. Judgment in any rank or role is related to more things than policy or rules. It also relates to what is reasonable, fair, practical and a best practice for the situation.

Here are some guidelines that constitute judgment issues:
*Would a reasonable person not involved in the situation think this was the best way to handle it?
*Could you teach others to do it this way and be certain that they’d be correct in most situations?
*Did it get a positive result?
*Would you have done it exactly the same way if the highest level manager had been present?
*Were there other ways to do the same thing that would have gotten better results?
*Even if there is no written rule or policy, did it reflect the general approach that is usually taken by managers or supervisors, and which have been approved in the past?
*Could the action have caused problems for the organization later on? Was it in the best interests of the organization at the time?There are probably other guidelines, but those are at least some. From your perspective you might also be thinking of these things in your favor–and that you could use to discuss the situation and perhaps have the write up changed or removed, if the decision isn’t final yet.
*Did anyone give you guidance on what to do in the specific situation you encountered? If not, would a reasonable employee with your tenure have been able to figure out what the company wanted done (instead of what you did)?
*Were you following the general manner and methods that you usually see? Were your actions duplications of what has happened in the past?
*Did anyone approve what you did or after the fact did anyone tell you it was OK?
*Did it seem at the time that it was the only way to do the thing that you needed to do? (Did you have any other options?)
*What is it you now have been told you should have done or said? Could you have done it at the time or would those things have not been practical or possible?*If the situation is about something you should NOT have done or said, was there a reason you felt it was correct, using logic as you considered it?Those might not fit your situation, but they might give you some things to discuss.The bottom line is that supervisory and managerial decisions are closely watched by employees. When someone is in an acting position they are watched even more closely. Whether or not policies or rules were violated, anything that can seem to be unfair, inappropriate, harmful to the team or individuals or that puts the company in a bad light, can be considered poor judgment.

I can understand that this is frustrating and probably embarrassing to you. However, your best way to handle it may be to simply say you didn’t think it was wrong at the time but now you know. Or, you didn’t realize how it would be perceived by others, but now you know. If you handle it effectively it will soon be forgotten and you can move forward. If you feel you can do it, you may want to consider writing a note to the person you report to and say you are sorry for the situation and have learned from it. You can then say you hope you will have the opportunity to be in charge again, to show that you are ready for that role. Even if you decide you definitely don’t want the hassle of being in charge again, that would help to present you in the best light and might help heal any upset feelings.Best wishes to you through this situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

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.