• Write-ups can be legit for improvement or totally bogus
  • Stay calm and be smart about how you behave and respond
  • Take it one step at a time and you’ll get through this
Yes, times have been rough and tough lately. And, you know that it’s been negatively affecting you at work. It could be that you’re just not on top of your game like you used to be. Maybe, you just don’t vibe with the culture or personalities at the office.

Whatever it may be, there’s one thing that’s clear. You feel like things aren’t meshing for you at work. You feel out of sync, out of place and have a hard time staying motivated.

Then, it comes from out of nowhere, totally unexpected.

You get a meeting invite with HR with a vague subject line and you see that it includes your boss and the HR manager - that’s it. No other descriptions or details in the meeting invite. You know this isn’t good.

After accepting the invitation, your mind races with all sorts of anxiety-filled thoughts. Are you going to get fired? Will you lose your job? Or get demoted? What are you going to do to pay the bills? How are you going to support yourself and your family?

You’ve never been so nervous about a meeting.

During the closed-door session, the HR person explains the purpose of the meeting. It’s to notify you that you’ve been written up for your behavior and/or poor performance at work. Both the HR manager and your supervisor then go into the details of the report.

And, this isn’t like the normal shit sandwich feedback either. It’s mostly bad stuff.

As you sit there, taking it all in, your emotions are running crazy with fear, anger and disbelief. You don’t know what to say and how to react. You’re just sitting there numb.

Now, you’re in the aftershock stage of figuring out what to do next.

Why Managers & Companies Use Write-Ups

If you've ever been written up on the job, you know the sinking feeling associated with it – suddenly it's as if all of the kickass work you did on all the successful projects is forgotten or in doubt.

It sucks and it makes you ask why do bosses and companies write employees up?

This isn't an exercise in hurt feelings. It’s usually a necessary part of creating an effective workplace where everyone finds success, an inherent part of corporate organizational changes or in some cases, straight-up bullshit.

Here are three main reasons.

1) Correct Problems & Issues

In legitimate cases, when a boss writes up an employee, they are trying to correct some problematic work patterns or behavior. It could be a pain-in-the-ass coworker that is causing major strife within the organization. Or, it could be that the employee is constantly dropping the ball on key projects.

When the write-up is detailed with examples along with how to improve and fix things, this is a sign that the company genuinely wants to see you take corrective action and change things for the better. In many cases, the write-up would also include a “performance improvement plan” or PIP.

2) Paper Trail To Maybe Fire You

In this case, the manager isn’t sure if they want to fire the employee or not. They’re on the fence about it so, they want to lay the groundwork or electronic paper trail for possible future action.

By having documentation of the employee’s problems and/or issues, the manager has a foundation for firing the employee if their behavior doesn’t change and things don’t improve. It’s kind of like an action plan if the employee really fucks up and shit hits the fan. The manager can quickly terminate the employee.

3) Building A Case To Fire You

Sometimes, a manager has already decided in their mind to fire the employee and is just building the case to justify the termination. It could be because of personality clashes or other bogus reasons.

This is the worst kind of write-up because in many cases, it’s not because of the employee’s lack of skills or abilities. They’re just using other bullshit reasons so that they can fire the employee.

What To Do When You’re Written Up

There are a million things racing around in your head when you get written up at work. And, if you’re not careful, you may end up doing something really stupid and making your life much harder than it needs to be.

Follow these key pointers and they’ll help you stay on track and you’ll come out the other end all in one piece.

Keep Calm & Stay Cool

Whenever someone criticizes you, especially about how you’re performing at work, it’s very easy to get riled up and emotional about it. In many cases, your first emotional instinct is to be defensive. This is natural because just like physical attacks, you want to protect yourself.

You will most likely feel like you’re about to lose your shit and want to fire back. However, you can’t fly off the handle here. You have to keep calm and cool, even if you think the write-up is complete bullshit. Don’t cry, get angry, start yelling or show any unprofessional behavior. Remain calm.

Listen, Ask Questions & Take Notes

This is an important meeting and a lot of details are going to be shared with you. You have to get as much information as you can and confirm or clarify things so that there are zero misinterpretations. Be sure to take better notes so that you can refer back to them later on.

Actively listen and ask questions whenever you aren’t totally clear on something. Asking them to repeat unclear items will help you better understand things. Then repeat it back to them so you thoroughly understand what they are saying. Do this without any hint of anger, sarcasm or any passive-aggressive attitude. Do it like an investigator.

Don’t Say Others Are Guilty Too

If you remember back when you were a kid, your parents may have told you that you can’t and shouldn’t do something. And, you’d often respond with the fact that your brother, sister or friend always does it. So, why can’t you?

This exact kind of thing also plays out here during write-up meetings. You don’t want to fall back into that same childish response of saying others do the same thing and that they’re not getting written up. It’s time to grow up and be an adult. This is not the time to fire back with childish responses. It’s better to respond to this later in a written response after you gather your thoughts.

Don’t Give Explanations Or Excuses Right Away

When someone is pointing out issues, problems or faults with your behavior or performance, it’s natural to want to immediately reply back with a reason, explanation or excuse to defend yourself. However, you want to hold back on any replies during the meeting.

Here’s why. When you’re under emotional duress, what you often blurt out isn’t going to be a well thought out explanation. Think about the times when you were really angry or pissed off, there were probably a few choice words that came out of your mouth that you regretted later on. So, hold off on any explanation until your written response.

Never Threaten Or Offer To Quit

Never, ever offer or threaten to quit during the write-up review. Even though you may not give a fuck at work, this is a very bad move and it’ll derail things really fast.

If you do this, you’re putting yourself in a corner with very few options. In some ways, it’s a signal to your manager and HR that you are guilty of the actions and don’t have any interest in resolving the issues.

You may be dreaming of quitting like this guy, just don't.

VIDEO: How To Quit A Job
YOUTUBE: Steve TV Show
LENGTH: 1:19
And, let’s not forget, when you quit a job, you automatically eliminate yourself from any kind of severance package and you’re often not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Sign To Acknowledge Receipt Only

In many cases, when you've been written up, there’s a document that HR will want you to sign after the meeting. It’s like a CYA kinda thing for them. It usually provides the details of the situation, course of action, etc. And in some cases, but not all, the document may also serve as an acknowledgment or acceptance of wrongdoing.

If you’re required to sign the document, you should do so only to confirm that you’ve received the document, not as an acknowledgment or acceptance of the wrongdoing. So, only sign the document with a note saying that the signature is only to confirm receipt.

Ask For Time To Respond

During the session, your supervisor or HR representative may ask for your response to all of this. You will have the urge to want to defend yourself and start firing back on all the issues one by one. But again, this is not the time to respond because you’re going to be overwhelmed AF and you may not be mentally and emotionally ready to do so.

The best option is to ask for time to respond. It probably took your manager and HR several days if not weeks to put this write-up together. Asking for at least a day or two to respond is completely reasonable.

Review Then Respond In Writing 

Use the next day or two to absorb and review the write-up. Take different perspectives and see the issues or problems from all angles. Be very facts-based and gather the evidence to support your explanations and/or reasoning.

Don’t let your emotions get involved here - as hard as that is. You have to be professional and polite. Address each item with clear and concise logic. Summarize your reasoning and provide your response in writing via email. This will help to cover your ass.

Fix The Problem Or Issue

Sometimes, we’re oblivious to how something we say or do may negatively impact others. We’ve all been on the receiving end too. It’s like those annoying AF coworkers that don’t have any cubicle etiquette at work.

If the write-up is about that, then recognize that it is causing others grief in your office. So, stop the behavior. If the issue is related to your work performance, then you need to stop fucking around and get shit done. Or, if the underperformance is due to overload, then you need to clearly show that.

Prepare For Job Loss (Just In Case)

Now, there’s an outside chance that you may get shit-canned, whether it’s from continued poor performance or for the bullshit reason that your boss just doesn’t like you. It’d be great if you could turn the tables and fire your asshole boss but that’s a different story altogether.

You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re out of a job without having something else lined up. So, here’s a simple plan for preparing for job loss that you should follow, just in case.

Talk It Out & Get It Off Your Chest

Getting written up will put you in a chaotic state of mind and you’ll be on an emotional roller coaster. You can’t and shouldn’t go through this alone.

Now, it’s not a good idea to talk to your work BFF or anybody else at work about this. You gotta keep this confidential at work. Otherwise, it’ll just stoke office politics and drama.

Seek out support from your family, personal friends, professional peers or career coach if you have one. Get their feedback, advice and perspective on things. They’ll help provide some firm ground and direction for you.

Keep Your Head Up & You’ll Get Through This

Getting written up at work sucks. There’s no denying that. But, it’s not the end of the world either. We all make mistakes, that’s what being a human is all about.

Ya’ know what’s also a human trait?

The ability to bounce back, overcome challenges and keep momentum when things get fucking hard.

And that is exactly what this is. You have the ability to fix and resolve things for the better. You’ve done it many times in the past and you can do that here now too.

This may seem like a huge catastrophic event right now, but in reality, years from now, this will be just a tiny little speed bump in your career. In fact, this could be just the sign you’ve been looking for to make an improvement in your work life.

Whatever happens now, just know that you’ve got what it takes to get through this kind of rough day. We’ll see you on the other side!

Feel Better,

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