How to Deliver a Verbal Warning to an Employee (Plus Talking Points)


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A quick take on verbal employee discipline. The deck includes talking points for HR and supervisors to use during the meeting with the employee.

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How to Deliver a Verbal Warning to an Employee (Plus Talking Points)

  1. 1. Mary E. Wright, Editor How To Deliver a Verbal Warning With Talking Points Your personal shopper for HR news!
  2. 2. A disciplinary action by a What is a “verbal warning? supervisor to a subordinate Verbal Warning employee. a) Verbally identifies observed performance deficiencies or misconduct. b) Communicates performance expectations. c) Delivers notice of consequences for failure to improve and/or meet Mary E. Wright, Editor
  3. 3. The purpose of a verbal What is the purpose of a “verbal warning?” warning is to: Verbal Warning a) provide notice to an employee that they are not meeting employer expectations and that there could be disciplinary consequences for failure to improve. b) correct or change observed Mary E. Wright, Editor
  4. 4. An employee’s direct Who gives the “verbal warning?” supervisor typically gives a Verbal Warning verbal warning. a) It may, however, be given by any agent of the employer in a superior position to the employee. b) The warning should be given in private. Unless given in an emergency Mary E. Wright, Editor
  5. 5. The supervisor should : What is said in the a) identify misconduct or “verbal warning?” performance deficiencies Verbal Warning observed. b) communicate that the conduct violates policy, constitutes misconduct or demonstrates inadequate performance. c) request improvement within a certain period, i.e., immediate, sustained improvement within the next 30 days, etc., and d) identify the specific consequences of failure to meet Mary E. Wright, Editor
  6. 6. The verbal warning should What is said in the “verbal warning?” identify the manner or means Verbal Warning for correcting behavior. For instance requesting the employee: a) obtain further training or instruction, b) engage in constructive conversation with coworkers or c) improve work habits or Mary E. Wright, Editor
  7. 7. Should the employer Yes. Always. Make a written document the “verbal warning?” record of: Verbal Warning a) performance deficiency or misconduct observed, b) time and place of the observation, c) what was said to (and by) the employee, and when, and d) the time frame given for Mary E. Wright, Editor
  8. 8. Verbal Warning – Talking Points • A direct opening • Ask for a response: sentence: – “Did you…” Not “Why – “Thank for meeting with did you…” me.” • Acknowledge agreed – I asked you to meet with upon or disputed me because… issues. – “I observed,” “You were observed” “We have • Do not argue or discovered…” Mary E. Wright, Editor
  9. 9. Verbal Warning – Talking Points • Agreed Upon • Disputed: – Say “Thank you” – Confirm understanding – Stop discussing the facts of employee’s position. of what happened. They – Say “I hear what you are have been confirmed. saying” or “I understand – Move on to whether the that you believe…” conduct violates – Tell them that you will company policy or document their position. procedures. – Reconfirm your position. – Move Mary E. Wright, Editor
  10. 10. Verbal Warning – Talking Points • Identify the policy or • Provide notice of the procedure violated. consequences of failure: – Take a copy into meeting – “You can be disciplined • Say: up to and including termination of your – “You must correct this employment.” conduct.” – “You could be removed – “immediate, sustained from your position.” improvement…” – “Failure will be reported – “You have 30 days…” to…” Mary E. Wright, Editor
  11. 11. Verbal Warning - Notes • Deliver in private • Do not argue or whenever possible. negotiate. • Warn as close in • Document the time to the observed warning. behavior as possible. • Place documentation • Give the employee in Personnel File. an opportunity to Mary E. Wright, Editor
  12. 12. Mary E. Wright, Editor Of course, nothing is ever that easy. There are all sorts of factual twists that can change the way this material applies in your particular situation. Email questions or comments to: Mary Wright, Editor, HR Gazette Your personal shopper for HR news!
  13. 13. Mary E. Wright, Editor Ubiquitous Disclaimer HR Gazette does not provide legal advice. The content of this slide deck is for informational purposes only. Before using this information – or any information you get over the Internet – consult your lawyer. Nothing takes the place of advice from a lawyer who knows you and your business, and who understands the laws of the state in which your business is located. Your personal shopper for HR news!