Make Documentation Your Performance Management Resolution‏


DocumentationCan you do a better job of documenting employee performance?

Do you struggle to find time to document the important conversations you have with employees? Does your human resources staff consistently ask for more documentation?

The new year is a great time to start fresh with a new and simple system for keeping the critical performance records you know you should be maintaining. Let’s look at how simple this important task can be.

First, maintain a working file for every employee you supervise.  The working file may be a hard copy file or an electronic file and its contents can be used to prepare a performance evaluation.  Whatever format you choose, the file should be a collection of positive, negative, and neutral examples of the employee’s performance.  Anything that is factual and representative of the employee’s contribution can be included in the file.

Examples of appropriate items that you may keep in your working file include:

— Work samples
— Notes from your one-on-one meetings
— A performance log
— Letters of commendation
— E-mails related to work projects and outcomes
— Certificates of training completion
— Quantitative performance records
— Disciplinary notes or forms
— Factual details about work-related situations

Remember, your employee’s file should never include:

— Gossip
— Unsubstantiated comments from others
— Personal feelings and opinions
— Accusations that have not been investigated
— Medical diagnoses or conversations regarding medical conditions

Are you worried that keeping accurate and complete documentation takes too much time?  There is no need to worry. Use the new year as an opportunity to establish your record-keeping system.  Set up files, create forms, schedule one-on-one meetings.  Then, just do your work as the supervisor, using the files as a receptacle for all things performance-related.

Here’s a bonus trick: Write just one note per week for each employee about a conversation, outcome, or project you’ve discussed with them.  If you make just one entry into the log or file per week, you’ll likely have over 50 examples of performance to use at performance evaluation time.
Maintaining effective and useful performance documentation is an important part of your role as a manager. Appropriate and complete documentation will make the preparation of performance evaluations much easier. . . even painless.


Learn more about creating and maintaining effective performance documentation in Marnie Green’s Painless Performance Evaluations recorded webinar series. This tool will provide you with more practical, useful tips for making performance documentation an easy part of your management routine.

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