Being reprimanded at work is not something that anyone wants to go through. However, they are common in workplaces, and you might have to face them from time to time. If your superior reprimands you, it does not necessarily mean that you are a bad worker.
You could turn the situation around and get a positive outcome from it. However, reprimands are not always criticisms. And sometimes, being reprimanded can make you more alert and prevent you from taking things for granted. For this, you first need to understand what a reprimand means.
You might come across other reprimands at your workplace, and knowing how to deal with them can be an important workplace skill. Read on to find out more about how to handle being reprimanded.
What is a Reprimand?
A reprimand is a formal way of showing disapproval. It is a reprimand if your boss has rebuked you, scolded you, or shown his disapproval. It can be either verbal or written, but once your boss has expressed himself, you should take note of it and set things right as soon as possible.
A warning almost always follows a reprimand; your boss may take disciplinary action against you later if you do not act on it.
How Do You Know You Have Been Reprimanded?
When a superior at your workplace, like your manager or boss, gives you an official warning about something, you know you have been reprimanded. For example, you could be reprimanded for being late regularly, making consistent mistakes in your work, or engaging in certain prohibited practices in the workplace.
Since reprimands are official warnings, too many of them could go on the records and reflect poorly on your career. It might also affect your relationships with your coworkers. Moreover, suppose you are being reprimanded for mistakes that have been committed unwittingly. In that case, it might also undermine your confidence, which will lead to even more mistakes. It becomes a pattern, and the sooner you break out of it, the better.
Bonus Read: 8 Things Your Boss Can’t Legally Do
How Many Types Of Reprimands Are There?
If your superior reprimands you and chooses to put it on record, then the chances are there will be a pattern to it. There are three phases to it.
- Verbal Reprimand
- Written Reprimand
- Probationary Period
1. Verbal Reprimand
A verbal reprimand is a verbal warning. This will most likely happen between you and your superior in private. The very first reprimand might not even seem like one. Your superior might want to talk to you near the coffee machine for a minute, tell you something about what they have seen or felt, and politely tell you to keep in check.
If the issue is repeated, the warning might become more official. For example, you might be asked to come into their office and be reprimanded in a more formal tone. In such cases, the manager will also tell you what you can do to correct your behavior or the issue.
2. Written Reprimand
If you do not correct the issue that has been raised against you, you will get a written reprimand in the next phase. The superior or someone from HR will convey the warning in writing. The written reprimand will contain the steps how an employee should take to reverse the situation.
The manager would most possibly sign the document, and it will go to HR for filing. Having a written reprimand can be a problem because, based on the rules of the workplace, this could be taken into account when it is time for your promotion. You wouldn’t want something like this to mess with your appraisal.
3. Probationary Period
If the problem persists and the employee has not yet tried to improve on the situation despite a written reprimand, they would be placed on probation.
This would mean that the manager will evaluate and assess the employee’s action and offer guidance whenever necessary. If the situation does not improve, the employee might be terminated, or rights within the organization might be curtailed.
How To Handle Reprimands At Work?
Now that you know what a reprimand would look like, here are some ways to deal with it. Of course, you are the best judge for handling a particular situation. Still, these points will serve as a guideline if you have been reprimanded more than once.
1. Regulate Your Feelings
When you are reprimanded for the first time at work, it might seem unfair to you. The first reaction is usually that your manager or supervisor is mistaken. There has been no action on your part that deserves a reprimand.
Do not respond in anger or shock. If the reprimand tells you that your work could have been better, try to upgrade your skills and improve your performance. Sulking in such situations will not help. You need to be at your productive best to ensure that you have used the reprimand to improve your quality of work, and that is how an employee becomes an asset to the organization.
2. Improving Your Performance
Once you have made up your mind to do better, it is time to self-improvement. You can do that by working on your problem-solving ability and improving your multi-tasking skills. Building a good rapport with your coworkers at this point will also help.
Gaining support will automatically reduce stress and will also imbibe a positive attitude. Moreover, actively seeking feedback from your employers will ensure that you are open to making constructive changes.
3. Speaking To Your Superior
Whoever is your superior, speak to the person to ensure that you have correctly understood the meaning of the reprimand. It will ascertain that you are moving in the right direction towards solving the issue. Then, you can schedule a meeting with the boss or take it up with someone from HR.
Take this opportunity to understand the workplace policies and the long-term implications of the reprimand. At times, it might seem like you are being reprimanded because of some issue you might have raised at work, but try not to speak about it with anyone unless you are sure.
4. Take It As A Lesson
When you are reprimanded at work, please do not consider it a punishment, but rather, learn from it. You can also speak to some others, preferably outside the organization, about how being reprimanded can be a good thing.
Over the years, once you have gained enough perspective and become a senior professional yourself, you might feel that the reprimand was a turning point, and it set you on a path to do even better. Unless the reprimand is extremely severe and uncalled for, you should try to learn from it.
In most cases, if you are willing to make the necessary changes and improve upon yourself, you won’t have to receive more than a verbal reprimand, which often does not go on the records. Hence, it will not have lasting repercussions, and you will end up benefitting from it as well.
Actions You Can Take To Handle Reprimands
It is important to take some actions to ensure that you are working in the right direction while handling reprimands at work. This will also help you keep track of the progress you have made.
1. Work Harder
It might seem like you have given your job everything, but choosing where to spend your efforts wisely. Work harder but not in terms of spending more hours at work but by making your work better by upgrading your skills. Make a note of the new things you learn while upgrading your skill during this period.
You must also maintain a positive attitude during this entire process. Then, when you work hard, it will automatically reflect on the quality of your work, which your superiors will notice.
2. Set Concrete Goals
Once you have made up your mind that you will do better at work, you need to set some goals to work towards. Working without a target will not get you anywhere. You can set goals like meeting your quarterly targets or bringing in more leads.
You could also meet your boss and actively seek ways in which you could improve your work. Experience always matters, and by seeking help to improve your work, you show that you are willing to take the reprimand seriously.
3. Follow Up With Your Boss
One of the best ways of dealing with a reprimand is to follow up with your superior. Instead of waiting for feedback, you can go up to your boss and inquire if he/she has observed in you a change in the right direction; after the reprimand. This will make you an active participant rather than a passive recipient. Listen to what your boss has to say, and you can make modifications in your approach accordingly.
Tips To Handle Reprimand At Work
Even after you have done everything, a few more things can help you handle a reprimand better. Here are some tips.
- If you get agitated when reprimanded, try to take a deep breath. Breathing practice or meditation is one of the best ways to handle such stressful situations.
- Don’t answer back to your boss immediately. They might be irritated over something while reprimanding you, and your answering back will only aggravate the situation. If you have something to say, approach them after a few hours or the next day.
- Do not talk badly about your boss to other coworkers if they reprimand you. They will surely hear of it, making matters worse for you.
- If your boss has reprimanded you for a specific task, correct it immediately and ask your boss later if it was done well the second time. It will show you are willing to learn from your mistakes and open to taking feedback.
- While it is good to stand up for yourself, you try not to argue with your boss whenever they disapprove of something. You may come across as aggressive. Sometimes, listen to what they have to say, and if it is a verbal reprimand, even your boss may forget about it soon.
Here are some frequently asked questions about your being reprimanded by your boss at work.
Ans: If your boss reprimands you, they will most likely tell you the problem. If it is a mistake in your work, if your boss has been offended by any of your behavior, or if you have broken any rules, assure your boss that you will never repeat it.
If you made an error at work, ensure you get it right by working on it again. If your boss sees you are sincere in your apologies and wants to set things straight, they will forgive you.
Ans: No, you cannot take action against your boss simply for reprimanding you. Unless your boss is toxic and insults you in front of your coworkers or threatens to punish you for a mistake you are sure you have not committed, it is better not to act against your boss. Consider it as a learning experience and move on.
Ans: Your boss will probably not fire you after the first or second reprimand. They will probably let you off with a warning. However, if they repeatedly keep telling you that you need to improve on certain aspects or stop making errors continuously without noticing any signs of improvement from your side, they may fire you. They might also take disciplinary action against you if your mistakes are severe.
Ans: Once your boss has reprimanded you for a reason, apologize and tell them you will work on whatever mistake you made. If you have any explanation, ask your boss if you can tell them your side of the story. Be polite and professional at all times, and properly discuss what happened.
Ans: If your boss has reprimanded you for some mistake you made in your work, and you cannot correct that mistake yourself, then yes, you may take help from your coworkers. Ask your boss for permission if it is an important matter and request your coworkers for help. In most cases, you will get the assistance you need, and you can learn to avoid such mistakes in the future.
When you feel that you are being reprimanded for no good reason, even then, do not react to the situation aversively. It is important to see the situation from the perspective of the boss, who also needs to follow certain guidelines and protocols. Reprimanding an employee might be their way of keeping the employees alert. You can do your part by being open to suggestions and ensuring that the issue is not repeated by making conscious choices.