How do I respond to getting written up at a new job?
February 4, 2015 11:23 PM   Subscribe

I got written up at work for coming in late regularly. I have been coming in about 15 minutes late on many days. Should I provide my managers and HR with an explanation of why being on time is difficult for me and with a clear plan to address the issue? Or should I just simply say that I will address the issue? More details inside.

I started a new job about 3 months ago. I was given the choice to start between 7am and 10am. Given that in order to get to work at 9am, I have an hour and 45 minute commute but if I arrive at 10am, it's only a 45 minutes commute, I chose 10am as my start time. I have been regularly coming in around 10:15am. I didn't think it was a big deal since I was working late, working from home later, working on weekends, etc.

I got written up and told that my start time would now be 9am and if I continue to be late, further action will be taken. I honestly have a lot of things to say about this, but I will focus on the main, urgent question that I have right now.

I have to sign the notice and email it to my Senior Manager (I'm a Manager), to the Managing Director, and to HR tomorrow. I think that I should explain that I take the job seriously, provide a brief explanation for my tardiness, and then give them my clear, thought out steps to improve. My husband thinks I should just simply say I will do better.

My explanation would be (written in a better way, but here I'm using bullets for the sake of being brief):
- I take this job seriously and I apologize that I didn't place enough importance on being on time. I have had flexible start times in my prior jobs. I understand how important it is here and I will put every effort into correcting the problem.
- I just moved to the area and I'm not used to have an almost 2 hour commute. My commute to my last job was 10 minutes. I have planned a trip to my old home to get my house on the market so that I can move closer to work as soon as possible to reduce my commute.
- I have a medical problem where I am nauseous in the mornings (think morning sickness since I was born. Literally from when I was an infant) and therefore mornings are very difficult for me. I am going to schedule an appointment with a doctor to see if there's any medicine or treatment that I can take/do in order to help me.

My job has a motto of putting employees first. Could be bullshit, I don't know. My husband thinks they don't give a shit and just want to know that I will fix it.

posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes to Work & Money (56 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm with your husband. If they gave a shit, they would have talked to you informally rather than writing you up. You're in danger of being fired, and you need to be early every day from here on out. Don't bother explaining. Just change it.

Apologies on your commute. That sounds brutal.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:36 PM on February 4, 2015 [48 favorites]

Were you given a verbal warning before all of this? Or did they just jump to written warning?

But this is a bad sign that they would do this so soon if they didn't warn you before. Of course fix it, actions speak louder than words. Don't put anything in writing beyond the acknowledgement that you received this. If more needs to be said, do it in person.

If you have a medical issue, document it. Get the paperwork started for intermittent FMLA leave if your company has more than 50 employees and you're in the States. That might save your bacon should you need it.

Start looking for a new job in the meantime. Seems like this one is a bad fit with both sides communicating poorly from the get go. Don't assume going forward at any job that coming in late is no big deal unless they tell you that. You're on a managerial level. People look to you to set an example. If the people under you didn't care about showing up on time following your lead, one day you might walk into work and not see anyone there yet...and what can you do?
posted by inturnaround at 11:43 PM on February 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

They don't care about anything other than you getting to work when you are supposed to get to work. Show them you can do this by getting to work by the time you are supposed to get to work.

After you've done that for a while and this is all in the past, then it may be possible to explain your circumstances and ask for flexibility in your working hours again. You have a horrible, awful commute, and you want to maximize your chances to have a flexible start time. You maximize this by showing up on time, every day, until they perceive you as a dependable employee, not by giving them explanations that they will likely perceive as excuses.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:43 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

The company likely doesn't care why, and will see your explanation as "here is why I will continue to be late in the future, because there are things outside of my control". If there is a way you can be on time, then take that option. If you can't get there because the bus doesn't get you there until 10:15AM, then start looking for another job ASAP. This company won't put up with the situation for much longer, it seems, and it's better to jump than be pushed.
posted by Solomon at 11:43 PM on February 4, 2015 [11 favorites]

Put the full version explanation, to cover your ass as much as possible.

But yes, it sounds like someone wants you gone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:44 PM on February 4, 2015

If they didn't give you a verbal warning (or even a casual mention) before writing you up, it sounds like this is an excuse for them to document dissatisfaction.

Either way, I wouldn't mention the reasons why you're late. They sound like excuses. Tell them you're aware of the problem and that you'll fix it.

If you were given the option to come in anytime between 7 and 10, they're already being pretty flexible. In my workplace, we don't particularly care what time you come in, but we do expect everyone to be in by 10 so we can get a few solid hours of work as a team before lunch. Fifteen minutes doesn't seem like much, but if someone's waiting for you to come in (and get settled) before they can work on something with you, that's disruptive to the team.
posted by third word on a random page at 11:54 PM on February 4, 2015 [7 favorites]

Wait, they wrote you up without even having an informal conversation first? If that's the case then you might want to start looking for another job even if they're not trying to get rid of you. That's crappy management.

However, to minimize damage: don't give them excuses about sickness or long commutes, especially not in writing. Those are your personal problems. I wouldn't want to hear this from an employee, particularly after a write-up. If you'd talked about these issues earlier as a reason for establishing the 10 am start time, maybe. But now is not the time, it comes across as whining and dodging responsibility. Sure look into the ADA / FMLA thing if you can but keep that quiet for now.

All your manager wants is for you to get in on time. That's now 9 am. Apologise, commit and do it. No further explanation needed. And don't rock the boat in any other way for a while. You're on shaky ground here, just keep your head down and work for a while.
posted by yogalemon at 11:59 PM on February 4, 2015 [12 favorites]

This is business, and you are reacting from a very emotional perspective.

It is unusual as a manager that you would think over-explaining like this, and including personal medical details(!) was appropriate. By the time you reach the role of manager, you are aware what written warnings mean, and why it is illegal to ask for (or offer) specific information about medical issues. (I mean, someone can disclose, but management shuts that down because legally employers are not allowed to know or weigh that information - you offering up something you know they can't know is grossly unprofessional considering your role.)

I agree you should play the game, accept the new terms, and start looking for a new job.

My worry and reason for commenting is that based on your reasoning and desire to respond in this manner, there may be other managerial skills and job requirements you need to familiarize yourself with and improve. Your impetus to over-share is not congruent with your role's experience level.
posted by jbenben at 12:42 AM on February 5, 2015 [17 favorites]

in order to take FMLA, you must have been employed for 12 months. (Source).
posted by elmay at 1:09 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just moved to the area and I'm not used to have an almost 2 hour commute. My commute to my last job was 10 minutes. I have planned a trip to my old home to get my house on the market so that I can move closer to work as soon as possible to reduce my commute.

Sadly, but truly, no one gives a rat's arse' shit about this. The first thing, maybe. The sickness thing, maybe at some time, with some words, from a doctor; but not this time, with the your words, from you. That just looks like an excuse, you need external validation to make it real, and bring it up at a time when you're not facing critcism.

Honestly, I'm kinda shocked that no one warned you or said anything about this to you before a formal warning, even casually. Is this a workplace thing? Is anyone else regularly late? Is this masking other issues with your performance, do they feel your not delivering? Are you missing out important meetings because of this? If you're arriving at 10:15, what time do people see you actually settled in and working? Is it closer to 10:30?

I'm intrigued to know what kind of setting you work in, because in a corporate setting (what I'm familiar with), this honestly all sounds really weird, every bit of it. Maybe you just got a dud organisation, which happens, this whole thing is weird. My workplace is flexible-ish about when you rock up, but if I was consistently late that would be a real issue.

Pro-tip: Start getting in at nine thirty for the net 6-8 weeks at least, if you wanna keep your job. And start looking for another job asap, I would say. Best of luck.
posted by smoke at 2:19 AM on February 5, 2015 [8 favorites]

I think you probably mean 8:30, smoke. But actually, you might be able to avoid getting your day eaten by commuting by showing up even earlier, like 7 am. I know that sounds insane, but sometimes if you're going to get up unpleasantly early you might as well go all-out, and depending on your local situation this may also get you out of the 8:45 snarl. Plus it would eliminate any anxiety or uncertainty about missing the start time because you'd have so much of a buffer.

IANAD (x100) but when I've done something similar in the past (not even a little bit of a morning person here, though without your medical issues) I've used 1 mg melatonin, over the counter in the USA, to fall asleep much earlier than I normally would and still get the right amount of sleep without being completely sedated in the morning. It's used a lot for jet lag and I find it pretty effective for mentally "changing time zones." But of course check for contraindications first; off the top of my head, I think SSRIs are contraindicated with melatonin. (And of course you may want to field-test it on, say, a Friday or Saturday night first.)
posted by en forme de poire at 2:55 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

"I will be on time in the future. I'm sorry to have caused a problem and I hope that in the future I will be able to earn back a 10am start time."

(When I started my current job, one of my coworkers let me know that being on time was important. I am grateful for that warning. For the first few months, I had a 1.5 hour commute. If I missed a bus, I would be a half hour late. Now my commute is less.

Because I know it is important to the workplace, I show up on time and text my supervisor if I think I'm going to be running late. I guess the lesson here is that one should try to find out if arrival/departure time is important at a new job. It is too late for this job for you, but I suspect that you'll be able to regain their trust after a couple of months of prompt arrivals. )
posted by sciencegeek at 3:22 AM on February 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

Speaking as a manager, the way I'd want to see this addressed is a) no excuses/explanations, b) you're at your desk by 8:00 a.m. (one hour earlier than they've requested) without fail every day for the next few months. How someone responds to feedback like this tells you a lot as a manager--doing a complete and total 180 can actually land you in a better position than before, if it shows how seriously you take their input.

However, I also do agree with some of the posters above. If you're getting a formal write-up for this within three months of starting your job, you will want to keep your eyes open for other opportunities. This could be the beginning of them creating a paper trail for dismissal.

Good luck, Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes. You sound like a self-aware employee with a lot to give, so I know you'll land on your feet in this situation.
posted by whitewall at 3:23 AM on February 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

Thank you all for your feedback. It was hard to read, but very helpful.

To clarify a few things that more than of you have mentioned, here are a few more details:

- I was a senior manager at my previous employer, was there for 10 years (manager level for 4), never got written up for anything
- My previous job was very flexible. I could work from home if I wanted to occasionally within reason as long as I didn't have any meetings that I needed to be there in person for. I applied the same logic here (incorrectly, though, I get it now) but will not do so going forward.
- The reason I didn't think it mattered was that I'm there well past my 8 hours most nights and I don't take a lunch.
- I got talked to about this about a week and a half ago. She said that this was the same talk and that it had to be documented.
- I plan to get there around 8:30 going forward as most you suggested.
- I did text my manager if I was running late to let her know how late and why.
- I think I made a mistake picking this job. I think I should start looking for another one, closer to my current, albeit temporary, location.

Thank you all, need to hop in the shower to get in early today. Will write more later.
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 3:52 AM on February 5, 2015

The reason I didn't think it mattered was that I'm there well past my 8 hours most nights and I don't take a lunch.

Do you clock in and out, i.e. is your time spent working actually specifically logged on some sort of computerised system? If not, then no-one may actually know (or believe?) that you work through lunch or work late, it's just assumed that if you're 15 minutes late you're doing 15 minutes less work. On the other hand if your work time IS logged and they can see you are working (more than?) enough time overall, then it looks like you work somewhere where they really care about inconsequential* bullshit like this, and you're just going to have to deal with it.

(*assuming you don't usually have like 10am meetings that you're late for)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:02 AM on February 5, 2015

I would leave out all of the "I'm sorry and I'll do better" - that sounds like high school, not business. No excuses, no talk about medical issues - just the minimum that you have to fill in that acknowledges you got the message.

Nthing that it's odd that they didn't "counsel" you informally before writing you up.

There are some things you don't mention in your letter:

- why are you coming in at 10:15am and not 10am? Is there an unreliable bus or train involved in your commute? Or are you just not waking up early enough?

- are you hourly or exempt? Are there records you can point to that show you putting in significant late / weekend hours? Not necessarily useful in this situation, but hopefully this is all documented.

- why is your start time now 9am? Did someone just pull that out of a hat?

I suspect that the backstory here is that your office has people coming in between 7am and 10am, and some of them are waiting for you (to get an approval, etc) and - sorry - your showing up at 10:15am is just slowing everything down.
posted by doctor tough love at 4:03 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Get in at 830. Prepare for this not to make a difference, they are most likely covering for themselves preparing to get rid of you. If it does work out for you, great. But i'd start looking for a new job. Writing up a manager for something so petty without talking to them isn't how adults function.
posted by TheAdamist at 4:09 AM on February 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

I didn't see your response with additional info until after I posted.

So - you were "counseled" on this matter about 1.5 weeks ago? The question I'm left with is this: after being counseled, did you come into work every day at or before 10am? Or were you late, even once?

If you came in on time every day, then it's odd and not good that they felt the need to do a formal write up.

If you were late, even after being talked to - that's very not good.

I'm not one of these people who thinks the answer to every work issue is "find a new job" - but alas, I think that's what you need to do here.
posted by doctor tough love at 4:48 AM on February 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

Yeah, they don't care why you're consistently late, just that you are consistently late.

They gave you a pretty flexible window of start times when you started the job: 'pick a time from 7am to 10am when you'll be in'. Okay, you picked a time that worked for you, but you don't sound like you're even trying to meet that..... instead, you want to give them a list of why you're not.
** The commute length: the harsh truth is, they don't care how long it takes you to get in, just that you are there on time. Ten minutes or ten hours: your commute isn't their problem, it's entirely yours. And being consistently late for anything, work or pleasure, is rude to the other people involved.
** Your medical condition: not saying your condition isn't real, but that's what it'll sound like to them --- all of a sudden, after getting written up for your constant daily latenesses, you're going to tell them you have a lifelong nausea condition? Like the commute, it comes across as an excuse rather than a valid reason.
** Your previous job was very flexible: that's nice, but you don't work there anymore, you work at NewJob, and they want you in when you agreed you'd be there, full stop.
** They should cut you some slack because you do a lot of work at home: is this clocked-in hours? Authorized in advance, or just your own choice? Because if it's not 100% officially authorized and pre-approved, then all it'll sound like to them is both an excuse for being late and an admission that you're unable to complete your assigned duties on schedule.

I don't know if it's them or you, but this job sounds like a poor fit, and perhaps you should look for another one elsewhere.
posted by easily confused at 5:35 AM on February 5, 2015 [12 favorites]

A corporate motto about putting employees first is meaningless. The only way to know if it's real is to observe how the company treats its employees. And even if it's real, as you're finding out, that doesn't necessarily mean that they don't want their employees to be at work on time or to do their jobs (they may consider being at work part of doing your job).

I do not think you should include your proposed explanation, in any event. Do whatever the minimum is to acknowledge that you received the message, which it sounds like is just to sign and email the notice.

Otherwise, it sounds like you're making excuses. One, that you didn't know it was important to be punctual, is a bad excuse because you apparently never asked, and that is the opposite of the correct assumption to make at a new job if you want to be professional. The commute is something that no one ever cares about, unless maybe because you are late because of a long commute made unpredictably longer by a snowstorm. The medical problem could be a real thing, if you qualify for an FMLA or ADA or other legal accommodation -- but only if you are actually requesting accommodation.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:59 AM on February 5, 2015

I am a manager at a company that is very flexible in terms of timing - we are allowed to work from home regularly, and it's not uncommon that someone comes in 15-20 minutes late and then works longer than 8 hours. I am supervising an employee right now who has a 10am start time and very often comes in 10:15 or 10:30am.

This is problematic for several reasons:
1) Everyone else's start time is 8 or 9am, so she's coming in even later than everyone else already.
2) She regularly goes into long meetings by 11am, so often times no one gets a chance to speak with her before she goes into her meetings.
3) I started scheduling a 9:45am daily meeting and she's typically late for it; more than once she has been late enough that she missed the entire meeting.
4) She misses out on the important discussions of the day around the coffee machine and as everyone is settling in. Informally, people tend to talk about what they're worried about doing today, what's bothering them, what they're excited about, etc. as the day begins. By 10:15am, that's all over, and everyone is settled in.

My guess is that their concern with you getting in 15 minutes late has less to do with you getting your work done and more to do with one or more of the reasons above. The employee I'm referring to regularly stays late, which is fine, but it doesn't have an impact on her initial lateness.

I agree with everyone else - you need to get there early for awhile to prove to them that this is important to you, and you need to avoid making any excuses.
posted by anotheraccount at 6:26 AM on February 5, 2015 [12 favorites]

Again, thank you all for your help.

I sent the letter in with a short note saying I apologize and that I'm taking steps to manage my circumstances to ensure I arrive at 9am. And I arrived at 9am today (would have been earlier, but because such is my luck, it's been down pouring this morning, which causes all traffic to come to a halt; however, even given the weather, I was here by 9am ftw).

One thing I do want to mention, I FULLY take responsibility for getting here late. At no point did I intend to imply that it was unreasonable that they want me to come in by 9 or 10 or whatever or that it wasn't my fault. It totally is. I have a timeliness problem. I own that and I need to work on it more aggressively.

I'm a little bummed that so many of you think I should consider this a good indication that I need to find other employment. I'm not a quitter and the thought of jumping ship before giving something a fair try is something I'm really opposed to generally. In general, I think you need to give something new at LEAST a year to see if it's a good fit (new job, new location, etc).


posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 6:28 AM on February 5, 2015

Being hyper-vigilant about timeliness (in a non-shift job) is one way poor managers demonstrate their authority and feel like they are doing their jobs. They get to act tough, and it requires no judgement on their part. "You made me do it." They don't care that you're getting the work done or that you're better than most of your peers. Figuring that out requires time and skills that most managers don't have. Seeing you walk in 15 minutes late is easy. If you've got a clock-hawk manager, you've gotta be on time while you look for an exit.

That said, are you getting dinged because 10:00 is a hard stop? Do the people who have a 9:00 start time get grief when they get in at 9:15?
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:33 AM on February 5, 2015 [12 favorites]

Those mottos are always bullshit. Unless it's the family business and the CEO is your mother. But then it's probably bullshit too.

In the seven years I worked in the corporate world my managers were always in earlier than me, and left later than me (well, except when I was in the night shift). And when they worked from home they would still be online earlier. It comes with the job. You need to set the example, make sure everybody does their job, be available when they need your help AND do your own work.

Don't tell them any excuses, even if they are not excuses. If it takes you 45 to get there, you don't leave home 30 minutes before your shift starts, you do it one hour before, or earlier. You may run into a traffic jam, miss your bus or whatever, and you still have to be at work on time if that happens. If it's one hour 45 minutes, then be out of the door at least two hours before. Does it suck? Of course, but you could have done something to keep your 45 min commute and you didn't. And a friend of mine used to have a three hour commute to work and four hours from work to home, and he want a manager, he got minimum wage for it, so it could be worse.

You get morning sickness? Go see a doctor and get that treated, or get a job where your shift starts in the afternoon, but the former is going to be easier. Corporations don't like special snowflakes.
posted by Promethea at 6:39 AM on February 5, 2015

- I just moved to the area and I'm not used to have an almost 2 hour commute.

But you said the commute was shorter if you chose the 10am start time, right? First of all, I think the less said to other people at this kind of juncture, the better; just fix the problem. But the number of excuses here and the amount of minimizing you do, if shared with your boss, might suggest you don't actually understand the problem. (As opposed to, you understand it in your own mind, you're just trying to spin it a bit.) And contradictions like the 2 hours/45 minutes thing, however rhetorical they may be, will make them apt to really not trust you.
posted by BibiRose at 6:49 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't know. I say this from a position of absolute unfamiliarity with the hyper-corporate world you're describing, but if you took the job with the understanding that you could choose your start time (10:00 am) which meant that you also came to the job with an understanding of what your commute would be (45 minutes) and then without warning and without explanation, as a penalty for lateness, your start time was changed, turning a 2 hour commute into a regular feature of your seems to me you have a serious grounds for complaint.

If 9 am is the accepted start time, and coming in a 10 am was offered as a privilege, which you lost - okay, fine. But it doesn't sound as though it was ever framed that way. You were hired for a job that started at 10 am. When you started coming in at 10:15, they had every right to discipline you appropriately and everything everyone said about leaving extra time to make sure you're at your desk by the time you're supposed to be applies. But to arbitrarily change the time you're expected to be in, without any kind of discussion or forewarning - that's kind of astonishingly punitive to me. I mean, if the job started at 9 am, and then when you came in at 9:15, the manager announced you had to be in at 7 am instead, I don't think people would be responding the same way. What if you had kids you needed to put on the school bus, or other family commitments? I would never take a job with a two hour commute, and it sounds like you wouldn't have, either. I don't think expecting management to honor the basic terms of your hiring makes you a special snowflake.

This all maybe absolutely besides the point - these people have power over you, and the response from the managers here suggest that a lack of sympathy is kind of the default position when it comes to these kinds of concerns - but in my opinion, the way you've been treated is really gross, and reflects more on your workplace than it does on you.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:59 AM on February 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm a little bummed that so many of you think I should consider this a good indication that I need to find other employment

Well, for one thing, a job closer to where you live or that has more flexible hours would probably be less stressful for you. It's okay to claim "bad fit" when leaving a new job, you don't even have to say why.

The other thing is, it might take you awhile to live down the reputation you've already earned as a "late person," if you can get past it at all. Some workplaces have long memories like that. It might be best to try again somewhere else and not find out in a year or 5 years, when you can't get a promotion, that people still think of you as that lazy sod who couldn't even make it in by 10. I know that's unfair but it's how some people think. Heck, at my old job, people thought you were lazy if you weren't there by 8.
posted by cabingirl at 7:02 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Just an anecdote that might put this in perspective:

I work in a place that really does put employees first. We can be like a big family.

New employees are supervised a little more closely because there is a provisional period for new hires. I had two friends who were new hires. They were both close with the rest of the cohort hired around the same time. One of my friends regularly came in about 10 to 15 minutes late. After a month of it, the other friend sat down with the supervisor and explained how this regular lateness felt disrespectful to the rest of the cohort. They had children and illness and various personal reasons for lateness as well, but they still managed to get to work on time every day. Meanwhile, they not only had to wait for the other friend to arrive, but it made their jobs seem less meaningful to know that people were held to different standards.

Even if those 15 minutes are not impacting the amount of work done in terms of widgets produced or clients helped, it still has an impact on everyone around you.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:11 AM on February 5, 2015 [13 favorites]

If you want to keep this job, show up on time. You chose the latest possible time offered and were still late. That's not good, but you know that now and can fix this.

My current job and former job were pretty self-directed when it came to hours of work. Don't be glum about the suggestions you find work elsewhere because honestly, the job you're describing probably wouldn't be a good fit for me either.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:19 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Is the OP hourly or exempt? One person asked, OP didn't respond. I can't imagine a useful answer without knowing whether the OP is paid by the clock.
posted by Homer42 at 7:26 AM on February 5, 2015

If you came in on time every day, then it's odd and not good that they felt the need to do a formal write up.

It's pretty common that an "informal counseling" on a performance issue is required to be documented to HR. That way if things continue and you get to the next step (usually a formal write-up or a performance improvement plan of some kind), it is easy to reference the verbal counseling details. Except for really serious issues, there are almost always a few genuinely informal feedback moments before the HR memo, but my experience is that people tend to gloss those over and not change what is happening until they get that more formal feedback.

If the time issue is the only friction point, then all you need to do is fix that issue and you are good. But if this is an indication of a poor fit with the company culture, then you would be correct to start looking at other options. There's no way to know that for sure from what you have written here. A minor write-up like that is in itself no big deal, but it's also a lot easier to write someone up for a quantifiable thing like being late than it is for "poor fit," even if that is the real problem.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:33 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

- The reason I didn't think it mattered was that I'm there well past my 8 hours most nights and I don't take a lunch.

So what. You are consistently late. This makes it difficult for your boss and even your direct reports to plan meetings, or even just plan their day. Don't make this about you, because it isn't. It is about the 20 or 30 or so other people whose jobs and attitudes are affected by your unchecked tardiness.
posted by Gungho at 7:37 AM on February 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

It looks like you misread the option of various work start times as effectively meaning that a flexible start time was OK. Now you know that is not the case. The verbal warning should have clued you in but that is water under the bridge. If this is the only issue at this job you can probably fix this, but you will need to be scrupulously on time from now on, no excuses unless your supervisor can see there is a major issue via the local news (fire, tornado, earthquake, major accident type of stuff in other words). If you are a manager then they expect stuff like working through lunch and staying late and doing stuff from home as a matter of course (fair or not, but they probably assume that will be happening). Therefore they consider that a separate thing, and do not see it as compensation for your not getting there on time on a regular basis.

Have you investigated how long the commute would be if you came in at 7 or 7:30? In my area, which has a lot of traffic and hellish commutes, the earlier the better in terms of commutes. You could certainly try the 9:00 schedule they have imposed but that seems like it will be throwing you into the main commuting time for a lot of people, and may not be the best answer. You know they will not let you go back to a 10 arrival time ever, or at least for a very long time, but asking to come in earlier would probably fly.

Also, it sounds like you are driving to work every day. Are there any options for you in terms of car pooling or van pooling? Even places without much public transit sometimes have organizations that will help match you with people looking to car pool.

Re the morning nausea, I hear you. I have that issue, and other medical stuff as well that means morning is not a good time for me. I have had to drag myself into work my whole life, and it is a long commute (an hour and 15 minutes each way on a good day) and what has helped is setting a target of getting to work 15 minutes early routinely. My start time usually was 8:45 but I tried to get there at 8:30.

You should definitely talk to a doctor asap about the nausea, but also investigate some strategies to cope in the meantime. What has helped me is eating a few whole wheat crackers or saltines when I am feeling it, but then, paradoxically, not eating breakfast or any substantial type of food or caffeine or acid (no orange juice) for a while after I get up. I usually bring something with me and eat it at my desk or somewhere along the commute once things settle down. YMMV if you have blood sugar issues.

Good luck with this.
posted by gudrun at 7:59 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

I apologize. I am a salary employee. I don't get any additional pay or benefit whether I work 40 hours, 50 hours, 60 hours, more a week.

It's fun.

Would you all consider it reasonable for me to see when other people get in? And if they are consistently late as well (which I KNOW that SEVERAL other people are) I should ask if they have been written up as well?

I feel like I'm not being treated the same as everyone else.

Last thing to add - I keep my calendar up to date and everyone has access to see it and to schedule meetings with me during my available time. If I have a meeting scheduled, I am there in time for the meeting - only meetings I've missed have been due to illness.

Thanks, all!

posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 8:02 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Would you all consider it reasonable for me to see when other people get in? And if they are consistently late as well (which I KNOW that SEVERAL other people are) I should ask if they have been written up as well?

I don't work in an even remotely corporate/office job and I can say with confidence HECK NO don't do that.

Other employees' schedules and possible tardiness are between them and their supervisors, it's none of your business, and you trying to use someone else's lateness as leverage to supposedly justify your own will not be viewed with approval from either your bosses or your co-workers.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:13 AM on February 5, 2015 [29 favorites]

Would you all consider it reasonable for me to see when other people get in? And if they are consistently late as well (which I KNOW that SEVERAL other people are) I should ask if they have been written up as well?

The fact that you are even considering this makes me think you need to get out of this job, pronto. It seems like it's becoming a toxic environment that threatens to turn you into a giant asshole which I think you do not want to become.

The only circumstances under which this would be appropriate are:
1. You are this person's manager.
2. The person's tardiness is affecting their job performance and you are writing them up (after a verbal conversation) in order to get them to improve their job performance.

"I want to screw over other people because I don't like my job" is not an acceptable reason, and seems particularly inappropriate/vindictive coming from a manager (!).

If you feel like you are being treated unfairly, again, this is another sign that you should leave the job and find something else. The only exception I could see here is if you think the REASON you are being treated unfairly is something illegal (i.e. if only female employees in your office get disciplined for lateness), but I don't get any sense of that here.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:20 AM on February 5, 2015 [9 favorites]

Would you all consider it reasonable for me to see when other people get in? And if they are consistently late as well (which I KNOW that SEVERAL other people are) I should ask if they have been written up as well?

That's literally the worst idea I've heard all day.

It's okay if this job isn't a good fit for you - no one is a good fit for every position. And maybe your best option is to angle your career so that you can work afternoon and overnight shifts. But what I'm reading here is excuses and shifting blame.

As a manager, it's usually important to be present during business hours. Even if there isn't a specific meeting, often people will need to check in with you, or upper management may expect you to be informally overseeing the people under you. This may not have been the case at your last position, but I find that to be the exception rather than the rule.
posted by fermezporte at 8:21 AM on February 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

As a manager, it's usually important to be present during business hours. Even if there isn't a specific meeting, often people will need to check in with you, or upper management may expect you to be informally overseeing the people under you. This may not have been the case at your last position, but I find that to be the exception rather than the rule.

My manager, for completely understandable reasons both professional and personal, spends a lot of time out of the office, and it's frustrating as hell as an employee for exactly that reason. There are lots of little two- to five-minute "I need your approval on X" conversations that turn into multi-day frustration-fests when we're trying to do them via email. She gets everything done, but we often run into delays in our own work because she's not there when we are.
posted by jaguar at 8:29 AM on February 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

Would you all consider it reasonable for me to see when other people get in? Yes, it might be very useful info. to see when the bulk of your fellow managers/people in your job category get in, as well as when they leave, to get a better read on the culture of the workplace. It seems like from your question and followups that you don't have a good handle on the place yet (3 months is early days), so the more information the better.

And if they are consistently late as well (which I KNOW that SEVERAL other people are) I should ask if they have been written up as well? No, No, a thousand times no, not after you have just been written up for lateness. soundguy99 and rainbowbrite explain why this is a bad idea very well. You have no way of knowing what issues the late comers may have that their manager may be accommodating for one thing. This is the exception: The only exception I could see here is if you think the REASON you are being treated unfairly is something illegal (i.e. if only female employees in your office get disciplined for lateness) .
posted by gudrun at 8:33 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

My office has essentially the same work schedule rules. We allow people to pick their own schedule but have a notion of "core hours" which means that everyone should be there between 10 and 2. I have noticed that almost always the people who get written up for coming in late are the people who choose 10am as their start time. I think this is in part because people have a bias that the people who choose to come in late are somehow morally inferior to those who come in early. I think that when those people stay late, they don't get much credit for it because everyone else is already gone, whereas when the 2pm people stay late, everyone else is there to notice. I'm not arguing that this is fair or reasonable, but it is often the case.

I think it is possible to recover from this by not having attendance issues for a couple of months and doing well at your job. If the commute is burdensome, then by all means look for a job in a better location. As others have suggested, do not try to draw attention to others who may be coming in late, this is a terrible terrible idea and will ultimately be damaging to you in many different ways.

I didn't see any mention of it above, but your medical issue may well constitute a valid ADA claim that would require accomodation by your employer. If you feel that it will actually prevent you from being on time, you might want to discuss it with an employment attorney. I suspect simply raising the issue would make it extemely challenging for them to terminate your employment for that reason, although it might well change your perception at that employer for the worse (despite the laws against retaliation).
posted by Lame_username at 8:45 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

You seem a little bitter and resentful about this, which I understand. They may well be treating you unfairly and/or insensitively in this regard just because you're new. It takes time to prove yourself to colleagues through consistent service, and three months is nowhere near long enough that you can expect to be able to take the kind of liberties that more senior employees can just by virtue of their time under the roof. Other people may be coming in late and maybe you took some cues from them and now you're getting smacked down for it, which sucks. But you need to shut those feelings down. If you want to make a good impression on your senior manager, you just need to get to the office by 9 a.m. each and every day.

That's all. That's the only way you respond effectively to this in their eyes. You don't complain about your commute. You don't complain about your nausea. You don't — god no, you don't — complain about your colleagues. You can certainly complain about all of those things here (assuming your MeFi user name is sufficiently anonymous and will never be traced back to you by prying co-workers) if it makes you feel better! People will suggest coping strategies, tell you when it seems like you really are being unfairly discriminated against, and give you support if you decide to get back into the job hunt. Over the long term, assuming things work out, you may escape from late jail and be able to negotiate back your 10 a.m. start time, or even some flexible hours. But right now you need to shut down any ideas you're entertaining about making things better at the office by making excuses for your tardiness, negotiating your start time further, or denigrating others in the office who have seniority over you. Those things may make you feel better but they will not improve your standing with your managers.

Be at the office by 9 a.m. each and every day until you've proven yourself at this gig. It's that simple. (And I am not a morning person, so I do feel for you.)
posted by Mothlight at 8:58 AM on February 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

Unlike others I think this is fixable by coming in on time - or early - for a long period and then asking if you can have your 10 am start back once you have their trust again. Just accept the 9am start or see if you can get an earlier one and work with it as cheerfully as you can.

This is *not* fixable by explaining your issues, no matter how legitimate you feel they are, to your managers (others presumably have similar type issues and make it in on time). It is certainly not fixable by coming up with a list of other people who come in late, especially as I assume you don't know their start times for sure. Throwing co-workers under the bus to legitimate something you've done that's been identified as a problem by your bosses will only make you look like a person looking for people to blame. It will also make your co-workers not particularly fond of you.

In truth you may be being treated differently than everyone else. But that may be because you're new. People who have worked somewhere for a while often get the benefit of the doubt because they have a track record. You don't or have a record of consistently missing your start time after selecting the time yourself.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:01 AM on February 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

You really need to start looking for another job.

Also, when people give a list of reasons of why they've been late, all I hear is "I'm going to keep being late, and possibly make it hard for you to do anything about because I'm going to claim it's a medical condition". I'm not the type of manager to care that much, but yeah, no excuses. Just fix it.
posted by spaltavian at 9:25 AM on February 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

The 9 am start does sound unnecessarily punitive and authoritarian, and if you struggle in a system or culture that values clock-watching over productivity, yes, I do think you should get another job (I would not prefer this kind of job, either). And, it sucks that those who do better later in the day suffer in those environments.

But some of your judgments here are kind of worrying, honestly. The idea of asking colleagues to be written up to prove a point is just so out of left field and inappropriate - you can't do that! Long-term, I think you might benefit from doing some reading about soft skills in the business environment, "business EQ" and the like, maybe do some intensive study of the Ask A Manager blog. Short-term, show up at 8:30, smile, give them solutions, stay positive, and work on finding a job with a looser atmosphere that will accommodate your work habits.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:26 AM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Again, this is business.

All of your follow-ups in this thread and the sarcasm are not professional or business-like. There was nothing to add or respond to, but you just couldn't take in the feedback and let it drop. Worse, you seem to be arguing with the commenters as if they have the power of your managers. People here are telling you what this action means in terms of their workplace experiences. That's it.

I respectfully offer up that this write-up is a strong step towards getting fired, as per everyone's experiences.

I'm going to guess that your overall lack of professional conduct is a strong factor at play in this decision by your bosses. You're right, you are being treated differently, you are being set up for dismissal.

Either you are going through something that is impacting your judgement, or your style has always been to be verbose and defensive. Either way, this is unprofessional. If the way you have conducted yourself in this thread is similar to the way you conduct yourself at your workplace, displaying this demeanor at work is harming you. You're not going to last a year if this is at all how you are being perceived.

You really should start looking for a new job and workplace culture where you can fit in better. I imagine you are less defensive when you feel more comfortable? This job is very likely not working out for you. I'm sorry.
posted by jbenben at 9:29 AM on February 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

Would you all consider it reasonable for me to see when other people get in? And if they are consistently late as well (which I KNOW that SEVERAL other people are) I should ask if they have been written up as well?

I feel like I'm not being treated the same as everyone else.

You're at risk of being very unhappy and resentful in this job. Your employer will perceive this and your work life will get worse as a result. You should consider completely letting this go.

I'm looking at this from the perspective of someone who investigates discrimination and harassment complaints and who has defended countless workplace discrimination claims.

What you are describing is a fact pattern I have seen over and over and over again in the workplace and shows up in one form or another in nearly every unsuccessful claim of workplace discrimination. Before you go down this road any further, there are some things that it might be helpful to consider.

In order of importance, employers love employees who are (1) reliable, (2) do quality work, and (3) who get along with other people. Being perceived as doing 2 out of these 3 things badly is a death knell in the workplace. Being perceived as doing 2 out of these 3 things right might be enough to save your job even if you're really really bad at one of them (the exception being poor attendance for non-medical reasons basically--you have to show up to work reliably). Right now, you're so new that your employer doesn't know whether your work is of a very high quality or not. They're still forming that opinion of you. They're also forming an opinion that you're not reliable, and from their point of view they're extremely flexible in allowing a start time and you're still not able to consistently show up when required, which alarms them. If you take this the direction you're going, which is to track the arrivals of your colleagues and then confront your employer with this information, I can guarantee you that they will also mark you as someone who does not get along with other people.

As a consequence, they will not perceive that you are a good worker. You will feel frustrated, because this perception of you will manifest itself in all kinds of ways: how you're spoken to, what assignments you're trusted with, how your performance review turns out, and so on. And you will continue to feel singled out and become more and more resentful when you feel like you were never given a chance.

But, this is totally a situation you can manage! All you need to do is show up on time every day, do quality work, and be nice to people. It will be several months before you regain the trust of your employer--showing up late was a little like drawing down on a bank account that had very little in it. You can think of your task as needing to build this bank account up, little by little, every day, until it has enough in it that your employer won't stress out when you're a few minutes late.

(By the way, although I think you should let this go, it's also okay to be openminded and thoughtful about whether you're in fact being singled out and treated differently--but this is not the same as convincing yourself of this fact from the get go, and after many months if you still feel this way there are strategies for approaching this with your employer that sometimes yield more productive results than what you've suggested here).
posted by MoonOrb at 9:32 AM on February 5, 2015 [14 favorites]

In light of the OP's response, I think I should clarify my comment: "That said, are you getting dinged because 10:00 is a hard stop? Do the people who have a 9:00 start time get grief when they get in at 9:15?"

This was meant to suggest shifting to an earlier time where your lateness wouldn't be as noticable/have the same impact. It was not meant to imply you should make sure everyone is being punished for being late.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:05 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Would you all consider it reasonable for me to see when other people get in? And if they are consistently late as well (which I KNOW that SEVERAL other people are) I should ask if they have been written up as well?

I feel like I'm not being treated the same as everyone else.

Wow; I missed this. You're a manager, right? How would you react to someone being a bratty tattle-tale to deflect their own short comings?

And what do you think their reaction would be? "Oh you're right, here, I'll just tear up this disciplinary action". At best, you're going to get your peers written up. Note, you don't even know that the other late people aren't being written up. You also don't know what pre-cleared arrangements they've worked out.

Will any of this make you look better to upper management? Or will it convince them that you are a problem employee that they're right to try to force out?

You've been there three months and you can't get there on time. Do not compound that by throwing a tantrum about who it's not fair.
posted by spaltavian at 10:33 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sounds like your office is a lot like mine, and in my office, it's all about perception. We have flex arrival/departure times but most people get here between 7:30 – 8:30. I usually get to work around 8:00. Before 8:30, no one is paying much attention to anyone else - we're all busy getting coffee/reading emails. After 8:30, most of us have settled in. One woman in my office starts at 9:30. By the time she gets here, the entire office is already in full swing, and we all notice when she gets here, even though she isn't late.

You chose the latest possible starting time, and you're still 15 minutes late every day. When you're the new person, that's not okay. When you've been there for a while, it still might not be okay, but at least your coworkers and supervisors will have some other opinions of you to balance out the lateness.

Also, when you work in an office, no one really knows when you work through lunch, or work on the weekends. How would anyone know that?
posted by lyssabee at 11:02 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

They gave you a three hour window of a starting time, which is quite flexible and generous. you consistently arrived outside that window. it probably pissed your coworkers off, especially as you're a new hire. nobody cares why you're late. Just suck it up and be on time or find a new job with a better commute.
posted by emd3737 at 1:36 PM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I certainly don't mean to attack the OP here, as I've been in a similar situation due to circumstances that were mostly, but not entirely, beyond my control, and it's not a fun one. However reading this, and especially some of the OPs follow-ups, the question that keeps burning in my mind is "Wait, you're a manager?"

Some of what you've shown -- making excuses, however legitmate, for your behavior rather than owning it, and showing an apparent willingness to throw people under the bus along with yourself being the two big ones -- are things that would make for a manager I certainly wouldn't want to work under, and could potentially have a legal impact upon your company. I'm curious if you were hired on in a pure managerial role, or is it more "You're good at Specific Task A, and we need someone who is good at Specific Task A, plus someone who can guide other people not as good at Specific Task A, so you'll have a team under you to manage in addition to doing Specific Task A"?

Because if it's the former, honestly, you seem to be pursuing a career path that you're not cut out for, regardless of how long you may have done it on other firms. This one, as you describe it, seems to be much more typical of the corporate role. If it's the latter, well, you're in much the same role as I am: I have extremely strong technical skills, and while my job title has the word "Manager" in it, I'm primarily valued for my technical skills and ability to lead others in the same path. I was not a good manager when I started, and a lot of the skills certainly didn't come naturally to me.

Perhaps some sincere self-reflection on your actual performance in your role so far might help, because it sounds to me that if you were hired as A Manager(tm), you very well may be doing not so great, and this is, as it sounds, a build-up of documentation for justified termination. If managing others is a secondary role for you, perhaps after you've demonstrated that you value your job and are willing to play by their rules you can ask about how you're doing on the managerial side and request enhancement training if necessary.

No company wants to train someone they hire as A Manager to be a manager, but if it's a hard-skills based role it's something they might be more interested in.
posted by jammer at 2:22 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

You probably are being treated differently, and it's because you're new. You don't have any credibility with these people yet.

You can still develop that over time; if they aren't planning to fire you, it's absolutely not too late. But to do it you need to be on time, a great worker, and relentlessly cheerful and upbeat. All the time. Be friendly and act like you're working hard and like you're happy to be there.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:47 PM on February 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Thank you all.

There have been other things going on that have been unfair - for example, a meeting was scheduled with no explanation or agenda, prior to the meeting I asked what would be discussed and I was told that I should lead but it would be a discussion and certain people would be there that were familiar with the topic already. I call in to the meeting and additional people were there, including the boss's boss's boss. I was told to 'present' the information and I did the best I could. Later my boss's boss complained that I had not been prepared and that it reflected poorly on me. He then told me that his normal practice is to practice with the person presenting to make sure they work out the glitches beforehand and make sure everyone looks good. There was no apology for not giving me any notice or anything. It was just a 'btw that was really bad for you' discussion. When I asked my boss about it she shrugged and said she agrees and that he can be unreasonable. She said to listen to what I know is reasonable and unreasonable comments I should just let in one ear and out the other.

The other thing is I was highly misunderstood. I NEVER meant to imply that I wanted them to write other people up or that I would tattle on other people. That's not at ALL what I meant. What I meant was that I feel like I should find out whether I'm being singled out or not. And if I am, then I would prefer to find another job on my OWN terms. If I'm not, then I would like to stick it out at least a year because I like to give things a chance before giving up.

Also, the other people DO report to me now but were reporting to my manager prior to me being hired, so I do think that it's my business and I SHOULD know if anyone has a recent warning in their file. Plus the reason I've been told that I have to be there on time is that it has to be fair for everyone. That I can't have special circumstances because it should be the same for everyone. If I'm allowed to be late, then other people would have to be allowed too. And then chaos (supposedly).

Lastly, I spoke to someone else and apparently EVERYONE has gotten written up. Some people several times. Not about being late necessarily, I don't know WHY, just that apparently that's the norm. I've never been written up for anything in my career nor in school, so it's very foreign to me.

I also think that some things have come off the wrong way. People have taken what I've said to mean that I want to get other people in trouble or something. That's not it at all. I'm trying VERY hard to change things and make people happier. Everyone there is miserable and I'm trying to cheer them up. Management seems to say one thing but do another. And everyone is fed up. I don't blame them. My goal is never to get someone else in trouble, it's to assess whether they are wanting me out of there or not and it's just the way they operate. That's it.
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 8:48 PM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh and sorry, one more. But I was very HONEST and CLEAR about my expectations in a work environment. I was led to believe it all aligned with what they had to offer.

It's becoming clearer and clearer how many things were lies. Just plain lies.
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 8:50 PM on February 5, 2015

If everyone is miserable and you were lied to, then you have even more reason to look for a new job. No good comes of staying in a toxic work environment if you don't have to.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:30 PM on February 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

[Comment deleted. Sorry, OP, but an Ask Metafilter thread isn't meant to be a back and forth discussion, or a place to continually update or add further questions.]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:06 AM on February 10, 2015

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