Workplace Documentation & Action Planning

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When an employee is not following organizational policies or meeting job performance standards, supervisors may assume they will recall details from memory. However, without documentation, it may be difficult for the supervisor to help the employee understand and accept that there is a problem. It may also be difficult for the supervisor to respond professionally to challenges that may be initiated by the employee.

In carrying out your supervisory documentation, include only those incidents related to the employee’s behavior on the job or to the employee’s failure to meet job performance standards. Include the date, time, place and the exact nature of the incident. If appropriate to the situation, also record the names of those present or impacted by the incident.

To complete the documentation process, 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 action plan agreed upon.

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. Then, 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. In the case of a serious infraction or one involving the possibility of job loss, it is always wise to have the document reviewed by legal counsel. In any case, make sure that the entire documentation and action planning processes are in compliance with the official policies and procedures of your organization.

Documenting the details of the intervention provides a basis for measurement of progress and minimizes the possibility of misunderstanding that may evolve later. And remember, all documented information should be treated as confidential and discussed only with the employee, or your supervisor and upper management on a “need to know” basis.

When closing out your supervisory discussion, inform the employee of the follow-up process you intend to initiate to monitor the individual’s continuing job performance and to assure that the goals of the action planning process are being met. Then, schedule a series of follow-up visits to provide a forum for communication for any concerns or difficulties which may arise.

As you continue to work with the employee, try to convey a sense of optimism and that you are confident the employee will respond positively in correcting the performance discrepancy. Emphasize the positive characteristics of the individual and give indication that you continue to value the employee despite the difficulty identified.