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The Importance of Documentation Even in today’s virtual, paperless world. Kitty L. Fields, SPHR, CPM Employee Services Manager Sumter County Board of County Commissioners. Introduction.
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The Importance of Documentation Even in today’s virtual, paperless world Kitty L. Fields, SPHR, CPM Employee Services Manager Sumter County Board of County Commissioners
Introduction • Effective documentation can give employees the opportunity to take corrective action and ward off potential lawsuits, especially if an organization has a progressive discipline policy. • Documentation of employee performance and/or conduct issues is very important to both management and to employees. • Documentation establishes an official record of the disciplinary action.
Objective At the close of this session, you will be able to: • Define documentation • Cite the reasons documentation is important. • Discuss implications of NOT documenting. • Determine what to document. • Describe how to document effectively. • Describe various forms of documentation.
What is documentation? • Corrective • Fair • Consistent • Progressive • Due Process
What is documentation (cont.) • Hand-written or typed notes from coaching and counseling sessions with employees. • Written comments including specific examples in performance reviews. • Disciplinary actions, such as warning documents with specific examples and consequences. • Hand-written or typed explanations with business reasons for employment actions such as demotions, promotions, layoffs.
Why is documentation important? • It establishes a record of employment actions taken and the reasons for the actions. Memories fail, managers move on and other circumstances change. • It informs employees of what is expected of them and the consequences if they don’t meet expectations. Employees should never be surprised when they are in a termination meeting. • From a performance management standpoint, it serves as a written record to guide both the employer’s and the employee’s future behavior. • It gives the employee the guidance necessary to improve. • It serves as evidence of the employer’s business reasons for actions taken in the event an employee takes formal or informal steps with a claim against a manager or employer. • It brings about fair and equitable treatment. No one wants to be blindsided or treated differently than other employees.
Why it is bad not to document • Performance or attendance doesn’t improve, and there are negative impacts to business, morale, and eventually the manager’s own performance. • Increased frustration by manager and co-workers. • Misunderstandings on interpretation of discussion. • Employees not equitably treated; may have discrimination claim. • Employees not treated fairly; may have wrongful termination claim. • Lack of documented formal evidence for defense in the event of a legal claim.
What do you document? • Setting and revising annual performance goals and objectives • Mid-year and annual performance reviews • Violation of company policy, procedure, practice, or code of conduct • Attendance issues • Poor performance • Demotions • Promotions • Change in job duties • Training needs and accomplishments • Bonus and merit increase decisions • Hiring decisions
How to Document. • Good documentation answers these questions: • Who • What • Where • When • NOT why, unless employee gives their own explanation.
What should a document contain? • The date the document was created • Your name and title • The employee’s full name and nickname • An opening statement about the purpose of the document • The answers to the 5 W’s • Any previous documentation • The consequences of further infractions
How to document. • Start early. Make it a habit to discuss the employees’ performance with the employee continuously as part of the performance management process. This includes positive and negative feedback. • Don’t wait to act, hoping issues will improve; they usually won’t. • Document only the facts, not subjective judgments or conclusions. • Be thorough. Ask yourself, if someone outside the organization read the documentation, would they understand the situation and the impact it had on other employees or the company? Is there too much company jargon and too many assumptions in your documentation? • Make notes in writing. Include when (date and time), who was present, what was discussed, the employee’s response, and the outcome, including a date for a follow-up meeting.
How to document (cont.) • Cite examples of how the employee has not met performance or attendance expectations. • Give specific guidance for improving performance or attendance. • Have face-to-face discussion (whenever possible) with employee and review warning document in detail. • Ask employee to sign warning indicating they have had the discussion, received a copy, and understand the document. • If the employee refuses to sigh the document, note that on the document and have it witnessed • Document the discussion from the discipline meeting in writing. • E-mail the employee a synopsis of the meeting.
Summary Documentation is important for both the employer and the employee. Good documentation answers the questions Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Document early. Don’t wait. Discussion without documentation equals misunderstandings. Without documentation it didn’t happen. Discuss and document only the facts. Give specific examples for how employee is not meeting expectations and specific guidance for how employee can improve. Ask employee to sign documentation of disciplinary actions. Give copy of disciplinary action to HR and employee. Discuss any issues arising from meeting with HR.