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Tips and Tools to Document Employee Performance

Published on 4/28/2016 12:00:00 AM
The importance of documentation in evaluating employee performance for ongoing development.

When it comes to managing employees, the importance of documentation cannot be overstated. Nothing is done in a vacuum, and a detailed paper and digital trail supports your decisions and protects your business.

Documenting employee performance is no exception. When you track poor behavior, incidents and other employee performance issues, you’re more equipped to make critical employment decisions. This may include positive actions, such as promotions, training opportunities and salary increases, as well as difficult decisions like demoting, firing or disciplining an employee.

There are numerous tools for documenting employee behavior:

Performance journal. Use this to jot down significant events as they occur. (Always stick to the facts – who, what, why, when, where and how.) This will be your primary source of evidence, helping to support your internal communications, warnings and reviews.

Performance emails. Write emails to share significant, positive events with employees. List details of the event or incident and describe the impact on the company. Send a message, for example, when an employee beats a quota or wins an award.

Counseling forms. Create a written document whenever you hold a closed-door session with an employee about a performance issue. Besides the facts of the situation, describe the improvement expected, the consequences of continued poor performance and an action plan for eliminating the problem.

Warnings. Use a warning form when you’ve counseled and coached to no avail. Document the type of violation, record the employee’s response to the situation and describe the consequences of additional problems.

Final decision forms. Has an employee proven resistant to coaching, counseling or corrective action through warnings? Use a “final decision” form to propose two options: shape up, or ship out. The employee either agrees to comply with policies or work requirements, or chooses to resign voluntarily.

Appraisal forms. A good appraisal form lists core objectives, provides space for developmental goals and covers a handful of behavioral traits for further assessment.

Do:

Document employee performance issues immediately
Be fair and consistent
Stick to the facts
Indicate the law or policy the incident violates or explain the reason for the policy
Describe the consequences of further violations
Chart the good with the bad for complete employee performance feedback

Don’t:

Wait to write up an incident or issue
Leave disciplinary documents lying about where people can see them
Write about “attitude”; focus on behavior and actions instead
Deviate from your company’s normal disciplinary process

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