Why is Performance Documentation Important?

Managers must track the training, performance, and growth of their staff members since this information can be used as independent, unbiased proof of what did or did not occur.

Why is Performance Documentation Important?

Somewhere along the way, howver,  documentation has become the way managers “built a case” against employees to prove cause to demote or terminate for poor performanceAs a result, employees have become suspicious and uncooperative with the performance documentation process. Because they don’t want unpleasant things to end up on their permanent record, they either refuse to participate or refuse to sign off on anything they deem to be unfavorable. They don’t give a damn that they have a right to fill out the forms with their opinions. They do not consider their signature to be an acknowledgment of the contents or an agreement with them. They just don’t believe management will use the information against them any longer to support a hiring choice that would negatively affect them in any way.

They are usually right.

As managers, we are generally conditioned to handle documentation this way. I’m guilty of it as the HR person. I’ve had countless conversations with managers about the importance of documenting negative performance trends — and I’ve had just as many conversations with managers about how their failure to praise their employees is causing low morale, dissatisfaction, turnover, etc … We chastise managers for failing to give consistent praise and positive feedback — but we don’t hold them accountable to document it the way we do for the negative stuff.

If our goal is to correct inappropriate or non-productive behavior so employees truly improve instead of turning over, we’ve go to change this. If our goal is to redirect off track employees onto the right path, we’ve got to change this. If we want our feedback and review processes to have real meaning and value, we’ve got to change this.

How? Simple. Document the good.

Not simple emails or pats on the backs but true documentation. Take time at least 3 times each year to outline the positive behaviors and results of the consistent and outstanding performers among your employees.

That way, when/if negative feedback comes 1) it will not be a surprise, 2) it will not completely cripple or discourage the employee and 3) the employee will be much more receptive and responsive feedback.

The only time employees have documents to sign shouldn’t be when they’re hired, fired or when something is wrong. By adding in documentation on positive performance trends alongside whatever corrective documentation is needed, you’ll create trust with you employees, set the atmosphere for truly productive feedback and assemble a historical records that illustrates the totality of performance.

That’s the case worth building.

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