Managing people is one of the most time-consuming and difficult aspects of any job. Whether you have one direct report or 20, the responsibilities loom large and finding the time to follow sound management practices in everything you do as a supervisor can be challenging. Documentation of performance and conduct issues often feels like one of the most burdensome duties, and unfortunately it is the one that usually gets put off the longest.
How many managers actually take the time, either during a meeting with an employee or immediately after, to write notes about the conversation and put it in his or her manager’s file? Most managers will say that they do not document everything they should and even if they do, they admit it may not get done until several days, weeks, or months have passed and it’s time for annual performance reviews. They also acknowledge later, if the employee’s performance or conduct has not improved, that the notes they wrote were not a complete representation of what was actually discussed.
If the relationship with an employee is deteriorating and the employer needs to take some disciplinary action, the absence of appropriate documentation can make a big difference in the outcome. Apart from following the company’s performance review process, documenting various conversations with employees is necessary because it may impact the type of discipline you administer, including whether to terminate employment. That’s because when you work with the human resources department to discuss problem performers, the HR professional is going to want to know what’s already been said and done as they help you plan the performance strategy. Without appropriate documentation, you may be told that the action you feel is necessary to take is ill advised.