By Marla Pascoe, PHR, SHRM-CP
How many of you can relate to this scenario, a manager comes barreling into your office frustrated and demanding that YOU do something to address a problem employee. After talking him/her off the proverbial ledge and listening to their very valid concerns. You proceed to ask the apparently very dreaded question; do you have any documentation? The reactions I’ve experienced vary from a confident Yes! To total confusion and frustration. Based on the reactions you receive, how many of you have wondered if you asked the question in a foreign language? In my experience, the dread and confusion surrounding documentation, typically stems from a supervisor’s lack of understanding as to the why, what, when and how of documentation.
Here is a list of frequently asked questions surrounding documentation.
1. Why do we need to document?
Document events, conversations, and meetings when the discussion is relevant and may impact an employee’s employment status. i.e. training meetings, warnings (verbal and non-verbal), employee requests from salary to schedule modifications, policy violations, complaints, basically ALL THE TIME.
3. What information should be included in documentation?
4. When to document? Document ASAP. The more time that elapses from the actual incident, tends to lessen the accuracy of your documentation. Typically due to yourself, the employee or witnesses to the incident forgetting the facts and then relying on just memory. Readers may become skeptical of the information when written days and/or weeks from the date of the event.
5. How should I document? Type or write a professional, legible, and neat document that should at least include the items listed under #3. Writing on a napkin, back of a receipt, and envelope are great for quick notes but definitely not acceptable forms of documentation. Remember you never know who may read this document.If your goal is to have an efficient and cohesive work environment then it is essential that we provide managers the tools necessary to effectively identify, address and document employee issues and concerns.
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