Take steps to document employee performance issues

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Each employee should undergo a performance review at least once a year. As a business owner or manager, it’s your job to ensure these reviews and other issues related to employee performance are well documented.

Human resources experts advise documenting all employee performance issues, good and bad — whether they are part of a formal review process or an observation that is made. This can be time consuming, but this paper trail serves as evidence to describe employment actions, both when cases of reprimand or promotion are necessary, and helps keep the company or the manager safe in case the employee is fired and later sues.

It’s important that all policies related to performance issues be included in an employee handbook and in the company’s written policies, so employees are aware of what to expect up front. A separate document may be specific to the employee’s individual position and include the job description, the company’s expectations and information about employee’s goals and training opportunities. This is the first step for supervisors in determining whether employees are doing their job, meeting company goals and expectations, and if the employee’s conduct
and behavior matches workplace policies, according to the Small Business Chronicle.

When it is time to review an employee’s performance, a supervisor or manager will compare it to the expectations that have been created, the goals that were established and other components of the written policies. Employees who fall short of these expectations may receive a disciplinary review to improve in specific areas of their job performance or their behavior.

This disciplinary review may come as a verbal or written directive but needs to be documented in writing and included in the employee’s personnel file and kept confidential. These issues need to be documented in as much detail as possible, and should include all actions — discipline, promotion, counseling and training, according to the Small Business Chronicle.

Documenting good performance can be used to justify a raise for employees and to show that he or she met their employment goals. It also can be evidence for why a particular employee was promotedover another, according to The Balance, a website that provides financial advice to business owners.

Documentation needs to be done as soon as a conversation or incident occurs. It should not be reconstructed from memory, The Balance reports.

It will verify the conversation occurred, gives employees an opportunity to correct any issues before they are reprimanded or fired, summarizes what solutions were agreed upon for improvement or measurable objectives, and allows them to see what feedback they are being provided. Employees should receive a written copy of the documentation, as well as sign to ensure he or she has received it. Termination, should it become necessary, can be more easily addressed when proper documentation is in place, the Small Business Chronicle reports. ♦

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