I certainly don't want to come across as the mean human resources lady, boss or anything but employee performance issues are meant for nipping in the butt. (Come on, you know you agree.) I'll also admit that this is not the most exciting part of being in charge. When you started a business or took that leadership role, managing employee performance probably wasn't something that you were like, "Yeah baby! I can't wait to have my first confrontation with an employee producing poor quality work!" (Said no one ever.)
Wouldn't it be so much easier if everyone just did what they were supposed too do and do it exceptionally well? It would be. And if I had the magic wand to make that happen, I am certainly kind enough to let you wave it all over your staff so you'll never have to address an employee problem. But the next best thing to that magic wand is a solid plan and strategy, which is what I am bringing today.
We're going to work through a strategy to address, halt and hopefully turn around employee performance before we get so frustrated that we just want to yell "YOU"RE FIRED!!". Executed well and it is quite possible that formal discipline, can be avoided all together. Sounding pretty good right? So, what is this performance management tool? It's called documenting employee performance. Yep, that simple. But let's talk about how to do it right and then dive into some tools I created just for you. Cool?
So, What Exactly is Documenting Employee Performance?
We're starting with the good questions. First of all, its not a formal discipline step. There are no negative consequences and it won't be held against them for all eternity. It's also not a warning or what's commonly called a "verbal" or unwritten warning (These are bad ideas, but that's another post for another day. For now, just know they are a super duper bad idea.)
Documenting employee performance is simply creating a record of the conversations that you are probably having already. It is an opportunity to pattern interrupt. To interrupt undesirable behavior and replace it with what you'd much rather see.
And it is collaborative. It is a conversation. The employee gets to participate. They get to know, hey the fact that so and so happened is serious. Oh, and my boss is so awesome that he's going to help me figure out how I can be a rock star.
In short, we are calmly having an adult to adult conversation. Collectively finding a solution to get them back on the right track (and stay there). We are writing all this down and setting goals of performance improvement to be revisited at another time in the future.
See all very positive.
Ok, But Really Why Do I Need to Do This?
There are some very practical and important reasons why it is worth the time to this. I think now would be a great time for a story. A story about Tina.
Tina has come to work late five times in the past two weeks. You've talked to her in passing several times about her lateness. She keeps coming in late. So you fire her. (She deserved it right? Only a lousy employee would come to work late that many times. You have a business to run after all right? (Right.)
A few days later you receive an unemployment claim in the mail. You have the opportunity send in supporting documentation to defend the claim. And you're sure going to because she deserved to be fired. You talked to her a hundred times about coming to work late. But oh wait. There is nothing to send. Her employee file is bare bones. Nothing what so ever that would make anyone see how her tardiness was excessive. The negative impact it had on your business. And all those times you talked to her about it. If only we had taken a few minutes to follow an employee performance documentation strategy.
Can you relate? And there are so many more reasons to follow an employee performance documentation strategy. Here are a few.
Some Good Reasons to Document Employee Performance
Important Information to Include
What is just as important as documenting employee performance is the information that is included. Since this is an informal process, everything should be brief, direct and to the point. Five key things to include:
1- Employee and manager information. Of course you will want to include the employee's and manager's name and position.
2- A summary of what is going wrong. This is where we get to the point. Stick to the facts and be concise. Answering the questions who, what, when, where, and why is a helpful tool to stay focused on the facts and remain brief. Also include quotes of specific policies, procedures, performance standards and work rules that were not adhered too.
3-Action steps for the employee to take to improve their performance. This is where the employee can provide suggestions. For example, if the employee has constantly turned in reports late an action step may be to take a training course on time management or learn to use planning tools more effectively.
4-Follow up. What makes this method so effective is the follow up step. Giving the employee a timeline to reach a performance goal makes sure that improvement is not forgotten. Set an appropriate date (Two to three weeks is a good range of time.) to meet again and evaluate their performance in this area.
5- Signatures and date. Make it official that this happened. The manager and the employee should both sign the form. If the employee doesn't want to sign the form, it is ok. Just notate it on the form. Or they could always write REFUSE TO SIGN.
Now is a good time for a free resource right? I made an EMPLOYEE COACHING AND COUNSELING form just for you. For free. You can download your copy HERE.
Wrapping Things Up
Now that your form is nicely completed, (Don't you feel awesome!) make sure to hang on to it. A great place to file it away for safe keeping and of course the meeting that is planned in two to three weeks, is the employee's file.
That's it. You're all done. And it wasn't that bad.
BONUS MINI TRAINING VIDEO + WORKBOOK
Well friends, I just felt like this post needed a training video. So guess what I made for you? You got it, an awesome training video. PLUS a 5 page workbook to guide your viewing and record notes. So what you'll learn:
So what's next? Download your free workbook, watch the video then go develop awesome, high performing employees.
Oh, if you can think of anyone who can use this resource, share it with them on Facebook or Twitter!
TIME OFF REQUEST FORM
NEW HIRE CHECKLIST
INTERVIEW PLANNING WORKBOOK