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Texting and cell phone use during the work day

Q: I was recently given a written warning by my supervisor. I strongly disagree with his comments and observations. He mentions that I spend too much time texting or using my cell phone. What is your opinion of this? Others do it too. I don't see them getting warnings. He is a new supervisor for my team so I think he is trying to make his mark, so to speak.

A: Written warnings are sometimes part of a supervisor's role. A supervisor usually is not eager to write them and deliver the contents of the warning to an employee. In fact, in my experience, it is just the opposite. Often the supervisor will hope that the behavior corrects itself. Most supervisors are reluctant to share negative feedback with one of their employees. So please understand that most supervisors are dreading the moment that they have to provide this feedback to an employee!

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Texting and use of a cell phone during the work day should be limited to urgent issues. The use of a cell phone for personal business should be a rarity. Examples of when it might be appropriate is when an employee expects to receive a call from a physician's office or if a child needs to be picked up at school because of an illness. Of course, if you choose to use a cell phone during your lunch break, that is usually acceptable also. However, during the normal course of the work day, your cell phone use should be infrequent, not the norm.

I am hoping that your supervisor was clear about expectations regarding cell phone use and texting. Even a comment like, "Hey, let's focus on work rather than texting during the work day" is a message to you and others that his expectations may be different than the former supervisor. Although you may not be aware of others receiving warnings from your supervisor, your colleagues may have received written warnings about the performance concerns and you may not know it.

Your new supervisor may be "trying to make his mark" but that is acceptable. Supervisors may differ in expectations. Your supervisor should, however, be holding you and your co-workers to similar expectations and there is some consistency.
by Pattie Hunt Sinacole


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