Written Up

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about write up that is unfair:

Four months ago, I had to explain to my boss that I was behind in my work and that I needed help. She said she would never give me help due to misinformation given me back when I started. We started from the beginning to bring me current. Then she wrote me up with no warning. How should I handle the write up? I was treated unfairly. What do I do? And I did not sign it.

Signed, Written Up–What To Do?

Dear¬†Written Up–What To Do?:

I re-worded and re-typed your question. If my minor changes don’t mean what you intended, I apologize. I’m sorry you are at odds with your boss. Work is hard enough without that. Apparently when you told her you were behind in your work assignment, she responded that you didn’t merit help and that had to something to do with what was understood or not misunderstood when you were first hired.

Whether or not I have correctly interpreted what you meant to say, the issue now is that your boss wrote you up and I think you did not sign it. I think you should sign if asked to. That doesn’t mean you agree with what is said in the warning. It simply means you have seen it. Usually, an employee has the right to refute a write-up and have that included in her/his file.

Since you declare that you were treated unfairly, your refutation could explain why. Recently my associate Workplace Doctor Tina Lewis Rowe addressed the kind of question you asked and she stressed that a write up is not a surprise; that usually a boss has indicated displeasure with an employee before a write-up. Your brief description regarding denial of help when you requested it is an example of that. See her answer: Can We Be Ordered To Sign A Disciplinary Form? http://workplacedoctors.com/wpdocs/qdetail.asp?id=2277 Rather than only submit a refutation to the write up, I suggest that you look in your rear-view mirror. Look back over the past several months. Pretend that you were the boss and see if you can see you as she saw you. Did she see a never-absent on-time employee who did her/his share of work without complaint? Did she see someone who cheers others on; someone whom she knew was reliable?

More importantly, did she see an employee who took instructions well and delivered a job that would make internal or external customers say, “Who did such beautiful work?” Did she see an employee who spoke respectfully and didn’t gossip about her behind her back? Possibly when you look in the mirror pretending to be your boss, you will conclude that she should have seen you as an employee who walks on water, but I doubt that. Somehow and for some reason, the interaction between you and your boss hasn’t been supportive. You can definitely agree with that. You are sure she hasn’t been supportive of you. Might she feel that you have not been support of her–that you think of her as an adversary and possibly your enemy? Might she rightly think that you have not attempted to walk in her shoes and to see your work and workplace with her eyes?

Now, if not before, this write-up is a signal that you and your boss need to get on the same page. You need to understand exactly the why of the write up and what you might do to make it right. If she is wrong, you need to succinctly say why. If she is right, you need to apologize and/or to learn what is needed for you to earn here approval.You told her you were behind and needed help, but have you ever had an eye-to-eye time-out conference with her? Have you ever make suggestions about how your workplace might cut wasted supplies, wasted time, and wasted energy? Have you proposed ways you might do what was assigned more effectively or asked her advice about that? In short, I suggest that if you want to transform your boss-bossed relationship, you will have to do more than complain about getting behind. Bosses are there to see that jobs get done and they are more likely to help that happen when they see an employee who does more than just show up; Of course showing up is 90% of keeping a job.Possibly you will see my reply to your question as not being sympathetic. If that is so, feel free to seek other advice. And if you do, still know that I know that bosses are not always fair and that some of them are bully bosses. You can see our advice in how to deal with bully bosses in others of our hundreds of questions posted in the Archives should that be the case.Your situation does not strike me as impossible. So I wish you the best over these next few weeks. Before I close, I’m copying a note from an employee who just this week sent the following: “I asked you for advice awhile back, I just wanted to let you know that the situation has improved. The person causing the problem was fired last month and several of her friends who were also problems have left. We have a new manager and she is taking care of the problems in the workplace. Things are going great!–Thank you!”After a few weeks I hope to hear from you that you and your boss have come to a supportive working relationship, or at least one that is a little better. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Can you see how to apply that prescription to your situation?

William Gorden