Documenting Performance

A reader writes…

Anita, can you please provide some tips on how to properly document performance issues?

Dear “Documentation Diva,”

(That’s what I like to call myself, anyway!)

As a manager, documenting employee performance – particularly the problems – is crucial. Though taking note of every single incident may sound like a pain in the rump, it actually doesn’t take long at all. Believe me; in the long run… you’ll be glad you did.  In extreme cases, proper documentation can save you and your company from potential lawsuits!

My first suggestion would be to speak with someone from your HR department to see if your company has a set protocol for documenting incidences.  Specifics such as date, time, and location must be included and other details may also be required.  The HR folks are experts at this sort of stuff.  They know exactly what needs to be filed and how.

In the meantime, here’s an example email that can be sent to someone after an incident  has occurred. It just takes a few sentences:

From: You (The Supervisor)

Date: January 18, 2011

To: Problem Employee

Subject: Following up on our conversation

Dear Tom Trouble,

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today about [x problem]. I’m glad we were able to identify a way to resolve this situation and move forward.  As a reminder, I expect that you will [insert expectation of conduct or performance here].

Please let me know if you have any questions or how I can be of further assistance to you.



As you can see, this email puts a date/time stamp on a document that identifies the problem and sets forth the expectation of the employee’s solution to implement. It has the added benefit of demonstrating the sender’s willingness to work with the employee to achieve improvement.

No sweat! It take less than 5 minutes to draft a follow-up memo which is a lot less time then dealing with legal battles and producing volumes of reports  to prove you did not do anything wrong –  should a disgruntled ex-employee decide to sue your company!

For further information, I suggest you take a peek at this website for some more keen (and legal) advice!

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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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