Approaches to Workplace Documentation

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When you are faced with declining employee performance and conduct: 

  • Review your organization’s policies and the employee’s job description prior to your supervisory intervention to assure compliance and action appropriate to the employee’s circumstances and behavior.
  • Make a written summary of what happened as promptly as possible after your intervention concludes. Document dates, times, places, behaviors, and the reason for intervention. Document evidence of declining or failed work performance in a factual and objective manner. Indicate why the issue is important and record the impact of the employee’s behavior. If appropriate to the situation, also record the names of those present or impacted by the incident.
  • Document only incidents that are related to behavior on the job. Record actual events . . . not impressions or hearsay. Document all warnings, reprimands, and recommendations. Record any disciplinary action you intend to implement. Indicate the consequences that you have informed the employee will occur if the performance does not improve.
  • Always record what occurred during the actual intervention process. Include the problem identified, the guidelines you provided to assist the employee, the employee’s response to your recommendations and the corrective action to be taken. Document any referrals (formal or informal) that have been made.
  • Record expected solutions. What are your specific behavioral expectations of the employee in the coming weeks and months? If you and the employee have agreed on a course of action, detail the specific steps to be taken including time frames.
  • Once the documentation is completed and discussed (with input from the employee also recorded), arrange for both your signature and the signature of the employee to be added to the document. Provide a copy for the employee. It may also be wise to have the document approved and signed off by your own manager before the copy is issued.
  • Respect confidentiality. All documented information should be discussed only with the employee and management on a “need to know” basis. File the documentation in the employee’s personnel file where its contents will remain confidential.