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Warning from new boss on texting is within bounds

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 cellphone. 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.

A. Written warnings are sometimes part of a supervisor’s role. A supervisor usually is not eager to write or deliver them to employees. My experience, in fact, is just the opposite. Often the supervisor will hope the behavior corrects itself. Most supervisors are reluctant to share negative feedback with employees and dread when they must.


Texting and using a cellphone for personal business during the workday should be limited to urgent issues.

Examples of when it might be appropriate include when an employee expects to receive a call from a doctor’s office or a child needs to be picked up at school because of illness.

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If you choose to use a cellphone during your lunch break, that is usually acceptable. But during the normal course of the workday, your cellphone use should be infrequent, not the norm.

I hope your supervisor was clear about expectations regarding cellphone use and texting.

Even a comment like, “Hey, let’s focus on work rather than texting” is a message to you and others that his expectations may be different from the former supervisor.


Although you may not be aware of others receiving warnings from your supervisor, your colleagues may have gotten them without you knowing it.

Your new supervisor may be “trying to make his mark,” but that is acceptable.

He should, however, be consistent, holding you and your co-workers to the same standards.

Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton.
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