Whichever stage in the disciplinary process you are at, it’s important to use the correct vocabulary. Whether you’re in a meeting delivering a verbal warning, or you’ve given a written warning to an employee, formality and professionalism are important in your vocabulary.
On these pages, we’ll outline a Verbal Warning and a Written Warning, briefly outlining the procedure and providing some vocabulary options to help you remain professional and respectful.
A verbal warning occurs when you inform an employee that if their work, behaviour, or actions within the workplace don't improve or change, there may be further action taken against them. The employee is usually offered the opportunity to bring a colleague or representative with them.
Following the procedure, the manager:
explains the reason for the meeting
has any related discussion necessary
explains the company policy and disciplinary procedure relevant to the situation
delivers the verbal warning to the employee
explains the next stages of the disciplinary process to make the employee aware of any further consequences
Here we have two examples of management delivering a verbal warning to an employee.
An employee has been called into a meeting by his manager for arriving to work late too many times this month. The manager is planning on giving the employee a verbal warning. The employee thinks they are being informally cautioned about their lateness and is none the wiser about the verbal warning.
When a manager sits down with an employee in this context, they tend to open the conversation with something polite and professional, like:
“Thank you for meeting with me today” or “I appreciate you coming to meet with me today”.
After this, the manager explains the reason for the meeting and the disciplinary procedure. This part is very straightforward. Vocabulary for delivering the verbal warning looks something like this:
An employee has continuously turned in a lower standard of work over the past few weeks. Management have addressed the situation informally and they set a plan with the employee to help them overcome their blip in the road. The employee hasn’t followed the instructions set out for them for improvement and finds themself below expectations. Management have called a meeting.
In this instance, vocabulary for delivering the verbal warning looks something like this:
Verbal warnings are usually the first step in disciplinary proceedings. Let’s take a look at the written warnings, which are usually the follow-on procedure from a verbal warning.