Verbal, Written warnings and Termination
i know a lot of health care employees are worried or concerned they may be on the ladder from verbal warning to written warnings and then fired. for many this is not an unrealistic fear it is something which is affecting their daily working life and erodes into their home life.
for some employees it is something which occurs out of the blue and was totally unexpected, for some they are expecting it to happen because of an incident which has happen either by human error or an unfortunate series of events, but for most it is devestating situation when it occurs.
warnings, verbal or written, are usually part of the employer's policy and are not written into law in your state. most states have "at will" employment where you can quit for any reason at any time, or your employer can fire you for any reason at any time.
so what are verbal warnings? they tend to be the initial step in the progressive discipline process. a verbal warning is an oral notice to an employee that he or she is not meeting expectations or that his or her behavior is inappropriate in the workplace. a verbal warning may be an appropriate response to situations including:
◦inappropriate behavior that if repeated could lead to a written warning
◦use of derogatory language
◦failure to follow hospital practices/policies
the next step is a written warning if poor work performance or a behavioral problem continues after an employee receives a verbal warning, a supervisor may need to employ a more serious measure. a written warning might be an appropriate response to situations such as:
◦failure to comply with a verbal warning
in some instances, a written warning may be appropriate without a prior warning or a record of a prior offense.
wikipedia quotes termination as
involuntary termination is the employee's departure at the hands of the employer. there are two basic types of involuntary termination, known often as being "fired" and "laid off." to be fired, as opposed to being laid off, is generally thought of to be the employee's fault, and therefore is considered in most cases to be dishonorable and a sign of failure. often, it may hinder the now job-seeker's chances of finding new employment, particularly if he/she has been fired from earlier jobs. job-seekers sometimes do not mention jobs which they were fired from on their résumés; accordingly, unexplained gaps in employment, and refusal to contact previous employers are often regarded as red flags.
so what should we do if faced with a verbal warning?
we should see it as an opportunity to change what ever behaviour is deemed inappropriate in our work environment. we might not always agree with what we are being accused of but at least you are being given an chance to change. you should take notes and not commit the meeting to memory, you can review them later, when you are alone with time to think. if nothing else they can be the "before" point as you start a process of personal growth.
if your boss doesn't suggest a feedback appointment, ask for an appointment to discuss your progress at a reasonable interval. see this as a continuing dialogue, not just a one-time slap on the wrist.
not all warnings are fair or appropriate. if the above steps have been taken and you were treated unfairly, you might want to talk to your boss or hr about the warning. although it is just the first stage of discipline, it does go on your record so you shouldn't blow it off. if the situation persists unfairly, make sure your resume is up-to-date.
if you are given a written warning then you will have an opportunity to read then write your own comments, you are expected to sign a written warning and this is an area of concern for most people, are you signing to say you agree with what is written or are you signing to say you are acknowledging receipt of the written warning?
you are actually signing receipt of the written warning and not that you agree with what is written, many empoyees do refuse to sign written warnings. hopefully your manager would explain this to you.
during the course of my research i found it interesting that there were more articles advising the employer how to discipline their employees than useful articles to help the employee work through their issues and what to do if they recieve verbal or written warnings.
if you do find yourself in one of the above positions it is worth while to do a search on stress and how to manage stress, these articles do offer useful advice which will help you improve your working life and in turn will help you change which will in turn probably meet the work diciplinary requirements.
if you are reading my blog because it is something which is affecting your life at this time, then document, document, form a positive action plan implement an action plan and see it as a positive allowing you to change and improve.