Must-Haves for Defensible Documentation

Below are some steps managers can use to make documenting performance issues easier (and more defensible).

Help your managers know what to do:

  1. Unmet expectations
    1. What goals, policies, or expectations has the employee not met?
    2. Review the position description and be specific ab out why the behavior is a problem.
  2. Behavior that needs changed
    1. Focus on the conduct along, not the person, stick to objective observations and details
    2. Record examples of how the conduct impacted other and the work environment
  3. The employee’s explanation for the behavior
    1. Don’t forget to the important task of documenting the employee’s side of the story
      1. It shows the manager is acting fairly by having a two-way conversation
      2. It keeps the employee accountable for his/her actions
      3. It ensure the manager is getting the full story
  4. The action plan
    1. Create an action plan; how the employee needs to correct the behavior, it does not need to be as detailed as a Performance Improvement Plan.
    2. Have the employee email you with the outlined action plan, this shows the employee acknowledges what needs to be done.
  5. How much time will the employee have to correct the problem
    1. Let the employee know when you expect changes to occur.
    2. Avoid saying things like; “as soon as possible” or “right away” give specific dates.
    3. Make statements like, “the report due on the 28th will have zero typos.”
  6. Consequences that will result if the problem continues
    1. Do not immediately punish, hold off while the manager coaches the employee to improve.
    2. When the manager does have to punish make sure they are very specific about the actions that will be taken.
  7. Follow-up meetings with the employee
    1. Follow-up meetings are critical.
    2. Make your expectations of the follow-up meetings clear.
      1. What specific aspects of performance you will be looking at.
      2. What specific improvements you expect to see.
      3. What additional trainings, if any, will be provided.
      4. What the specific consequences are for not improving.

Make sure the manager documents all conversations with the employee about the behavior.

HRMorning.com, “7 Must-haves for defensible documentation”, by Julian Lopez, January 8, 2016

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