As the name suggests, a verbal warning process is a warning that is given verbally to an employee in the workplace because their job performance is not meeting the set standards specified in the rule book.
It is an essential indicator of the employer’s displeasure that suggests that the employee is doing something wrong, and it is high time he pulled up his socks and set things right. When an employee receives an oral warning, it shows that the employer gives him a chance upfront to address and correct it.
Types of an Oral warning
Two types of oral warnings are given to an employee in the workplace. These are –
1. Informal Verbal Warning
This type of warning is verbally given to employees who are continually making mistakes or when their behavior is not up to the mark. Suppose an employee is always ten minutes late to the office, then the management is within its rights to issue an informal warning even though he is only a few minutes late.
When an employee receives this type of warning, he has a chance to take preventive action against his behavior and rectify mistakes.
2. Formal Verbal Warning
This type of warning generally is given after issuing an informal warning when the situation does not change or if it becomes worse. In the above example, the employee was given an informal warning for being always late on the job. When he failed to take corrective measures, the employer does not have any other option, and he has to issue a formal oral warning.
This warning is given verbally but in a written form that clearly states the offense and the action that the organization will take if the employer’s expectations are not met within the allotted time frame.
Reasons for Oral Warning at the Workplace
Some important reasons for oral warning at the workplace are
- Late to work regularly
- Leaving work regularly before time
- Not meeting project deadlines
- Not cooperating with team members
- Breaking company rules like dressing inappropriately
- Your behavior, words, or actions are not going down well with other employees
- Your supervisor has to keep a constant watch over you on an overall basis
Important Things to know about the Verbal Warning
Some crucial things associated with oral warning are as follows
- There are no specific rules in place on whether an employer should give a verbal warning before issuing a written warning. It is up to the company handbook’s rules and regulations and the seriousness of the situation that decides how an employer will proceed.
- Documenting the oral warning is the right thing to do as it serves as proof if the issue escalates later on
- The employee, as well as the employer, should sign the written document because it is proof that the warning was issued
- An employee needs to take the warning as constructive feedback and respond positively. This will show that he is sincere in his intentions and is making an effort to correct the mistakes
- There is little chance of being fired after an oral warning. The employer will take such action only in extreme circumstances
- Typically an organization gives warnings before firing an employee, but it all depends upon the issue and the employee’s efforts towards resolving the problem
How to Give a Verbal Warning
Take the following steps while issuing an oral warning to the employee in a workplace –
1. Make the conversation private
A warning is not something to be proud of. It becomes imperative that the issue is discussed in a private place where the chance of someone eavesdropping or overhearing is minimal.
The privacy will ensure that the words of warning remain between the employer and employee, and he does not have to face the condemning eyes of fellow workers. Ask the employee in your office or a private room.
He should have a clue about what is going to take place to come prepared with his defense if any. At this point, a good thing will be to include another supervisor in the room who can act as a witness and recount the happenings if there is a need to issue written warnings in the future.
2. State the issue
Issue a stern warning to the employee to understand the seriousness of the matter and take appropriate steps to handle it. This is the time to be direct hence state the issue with clear words in a precise manner.
Do not drag the issue or dilly-dally the topic; instead, go straight to the point and point out the action or behavior that has become a source of concern. It is best to explain why it is considered problematic and its repercussions on the workplace
3. Talk about the changes
Ensure that the employee understands that he is still an essential part of the organization, and his services are considered valuable. Discuss the changes that he should make to overcome his specific issues.
There should not be any scope for confusion or misunderstanding so that all the problems can be resolved at the earliest
4. Give a timeframe
An oral warning is given for a specific issue, and it should not be taken lightly. Provide a timeline for corrective measures; otherwise, the employee will keep on repeating it.
This is a crucial step to avoid further action as a written warning, later on, can be a reason for disciplinary action. Give a reasonable timeframe depending upon your take so that the employee has a fair chance of resolving the issue
5. State the consequences
The employee needs to know that every action will have a reaction and a result that will not be in his favor. Tell him about the repercussions and end-result so that he can understand the seriousness of the issue and take measures accordingly
Best Practices for issuing an Oral Warning
Some of the best practices for issuing an oral warning are as follows
- Keep a record of the oral warning in writing as it will give it an added weight so that the organization has a viable proof and it can take further action in case the issue is not resolved as per their directive
- It is a professional environment, and keeping the tone professional will go a long way in showing the seriousness of the issue
- Stay calm while issuing the warning. In case the employee reacts, do not lose your temper; instead, try to calm him down and let him know the seriousness of the situation and its impact on his professional career
- While issuing an oral warning, it is considered good practice to offer help so that the employee understands that you are in his corner and wants him to resolve the issue
- Follow-up for some time to check whether the employee is trying to correct his mistakes and is he making any progress through the efforts
Things to Avoid while Issuing an Oral Warning
Make sure to avoid the following things while issuing an oral warning
- Stay focused on the job at hand and do not stray to other issues while issuing an oral warning.
- It should be about a specific issue hence do not generalize it
- Do not be personal or try to deride the employee as no one likes to receive a warning at the workplace. It can cause stress and anxiety that harm the level of efficiency and productivity.
- Do not be insensitive to an employee’s problems as this will make him stubborn and he will not be able to take preventive measures that are the need of the hour
Verbal warnings in a workplace act as an essential tool to discipline the employees who tend to flaunt rules or display unacceptable conduct.
The immediate action is a reminder that performance or behavior is merely undesirable, and it could lead to serious repercussions in the future if not tackled at the right time.