Employee Assistance Program


Documenting Performance Problems

There are important principles to follow when constructing documentation. These principles are easily forgotten or ignored by supervisors, thereby making it difficult for an organization to act on the documentation because it is problematic.

Without effective documentation, it is also difficult to motivate troubled employees to improve their performance, and difficult to safely administer disciplinary actions without legal risk.

Document discussions, encounters, actions, or steps taken with employees. Also document verbal warnings and conferences. Avoid emotional or subjective language when constructing documentation.

  • THINK: Am I using language in my documentation that is measurable and “describes,” not “interprets” unacceptable behavior?
  • EXAMPLE: “The employee was irresponsible in reporting the day’s financial receipts.”
  • BETTER: “The employee did not enter the amount of daily receipts in the ledger. This caused a delay in reporting the monthly financial performance of the work unit.”

Make documentation open and available for your employee to see. Don’t keep a hidden file or secret notes. Letting the employee know what is being documented can motivate change rapidly.

Record positive information about your employee when documenting job performance problems. More than likely, there are positive aspects of performance that exist. Know what they are and refer to them. This will help you appear as an objective supervisor if your documentation is ever questioned during appeals, grievances, or legal proceedings.

Next: Confronting Your Employee