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If your superior reprimands you for any reason, chances are an account of the reprimand will be put in writing and a copy of the document placed in your employment file. If you object to any portion of the reprimand or disagree with its contents, ask your supervisor or human resources representative for the opportunity to counter the reprimand with your own written version of events.
Stick to the Issues
When writing a response to a reprimand, it can be tempting to go into a litany of complaints you have against your boss. However, to be effective, stick to the specific case at hand and describe only the reprimand you’re replying to. For example, “I was reprimanded for missing a print deadline that wasn’t my fault.” is a poor defense. Rather, go with something like, “On April 1, 2012, I was reprimanded for missing a print deadline. The deadline was unattainable due to the fact that 50 percent of our internal contributors failed to turn in materials on schedule.”
Support your objection to your reprimand by including evidence that bolsters your position. For example, “As outlined by department policy, which I have attached, the company newsletter cannot go to print without a minimum of 75 percent of departments represented. I notified Mr. Smith of the delinquency 48 hours before deadline, as is evidenced by my attached e-mail. I also made efforts to address the problem myself, as is evidenced by the attached reminder notices sent to department heads at the end of last week.”
Summarize Your Position
Wrap up your objection by summarizing the issue and stating how you would like future resolution to unfold. “I made every attempt to fulfill my job responsibilities. Failure of the newsletter to be printed in a timely fashion is directly related to the apathy of contributing department heads. Formally reprimanding me for an issue outside of my control is inappropriate, and I believe, uncalled for.”
Use Your Documentation
If you’re being blamed for an issue outside of your control, there’s more at stake than a letter of reprimand in your employment file. Follow your human resources department’s dispute mediation practices for addressing underlying performance and responsibility issues with your supervisor. Try to work out an equitable solution. Ignoring the problem risks the miscommunication continuing and leading to internal discord.
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Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.