As a business owner, it’s important to stay on top of performance issues with employees and maintain accurate records of their behavior, achievements, and any disciplinary measures taken. With the help of PEO services, employers can get assistance in creating an effective documentation system that will provide clarity for both the employer and the employee.
Learn the best practices when it comes to documenting employee behavior, performance, and discipline from our team at Vested HR.
The Importance of Documenting Employee Behavior
Accurately documenting employee behavior, performance, and discipline is an essential part of any successful business. The absence of solid documentation is the most common mistake that employers make when handling employee performance, behavior, and discipline.
Documentation can make or break a manager’s ability to promote,
discipline, terminate, or reward employees.
Proper documentation of employee behavior is essential for any organization, but especially for small businesses that lack the resources or expertise to manage HR duties on their own.
With the help of PEO services, small business owners can ensure that their employees are held accountable and that any issues are handled in a professional and legally sound manner. Documentation is an important part of this process as it serves as evidence should further action be required.
- A well-documented record also helps set expectations for current and future employees while ensuring fairness across the workforce.
- Thorough documentation helps organizations identify potential areas of improvement within their team and make adjustments accordingly. This not only improves productivity but also strengthens employee morale over time.
When you work with our team at Vested HR, our staff is knowledgeable about the ever-changing laws, regulations, and best practices for handling disciplinary and behavioral issues in the workplace. We can provide training materials and guidance to help ensure compliance with all applicable laws, as well as comprehensive written documentation of any disciplinary action taken. Furthermore, our team can provide sample forms and templates for keeping track of employee performance reviews, goals, and successes.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Documentation
Proper documentation is vital in almost every aspect of managing your employees. Remember; poor documentation is worse than no documentation at all. Make sure to document with purpose.
Here are our top five do’s and don’ts of employee documentation:
#1. Do Establish Clear Expectations
Start any relationship with an employee with clearly written performance expectations. This statement of your expectations as their employer will guide every other aspect of the documentation and set standards for which future performance will be measured.
Your expectations need to be consistent with the employee’s job description and the tasks that are assigned to them. Consistent, clear, and well-written performance expectations are crucial if you want your team members to succeed.
#2. Do Focus on the Facts
If an employee is being disciplined, provide them with a clear statement of the facts when you are summarizing their policy violation or misconduct. This statement should focus solely on what you know happened and not anything speculative or unverified.
#3. Review Patterns of Problem Behavior
When you take the time to document a performance or behavioral problem in the workplace in writing, it is typically not the first time the employee has had a problem. Don’t ignore previous incidents. List in detail every time the employee exhibits the problem behavior and include what steps you took to mitigate the issue.
The same can be said for stellar behavior and performance. Make note of it each time it happens so you can reward or promote your employee in the future.
#4. Do Create a Specific Plan
Make a plan for how your employee can improve if they are falling behind in their performance metrics. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to measure improvement.
- List the criteria they must meet
- Include a timeframe for meeting each expectation
Don’t forget to include in the documentation that if the employee fails to meet the criteria, they will face further disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
#5. Do Follow Up
Documentation is only worth it if you follow up. If you place an employee on a formal corrective action plan but never follow up, the action plan won’t work. Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget to follow up, or outsource your HR to make sure everything happens on time.
The best practice is to set specific performance criteria with a specific time frame for them to be completed, and then undertake a formal review during that timeframe.
#1. Don’t Generalize
Generalizations like terminating an employee for “not being a team player” or another cliché have no place in formal documentation. You must provide specific examples of problematic behavior.
#2. Don’t Try to Diagnose Why an Employee is Behaving Poorly
When you begin documenting employee performance issues, don’t try to figure out the “why.” Even if you think it may be due to their financial situation, divorce, or social life. Avoid the urge to put your “diagnosis” in your formal documentation.
#3. Don’t Include Editorial Commentary
Inexperienced supervisors often make the mistake of including their editorial commentary or mental impressions in performance documentation.
Suppose an employee is written up for failing to follow their supervisor’s instructions. Instead of stating “I thought my directions were clear,” state exactly what you told the employee. If you state the former, maybe you weren’t as clear as you thought. When it comes to human resources: state the facts and the facts alone.
#4. Don’t Embellish the Truth
Never overstate what took place if you have to discipline an employee. Minor embellishments have a way of getting blown out of proportion, and you could be left defending a lie.
- Don’t call dishonesty a fraud.
- Don’t accuse an employee of stealing when they made a mistake
Work with your HR rep to know exactly what to do in each unique situation. We’ll help guide you on the right path.
#5. Don’t Apologize
Never apologize for taking disciplinary action. You are ensuring that your employees are all held to the same standard, and if your employee isn’t doing their job, there are consequences they must face.
Document Your Employee’s Behavior
Documenting employee behavior, performance, and discipline is an important responsibility for any employer. Although this task can be daunting, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) like Vested HR can help employers manage the process.