Managing a Team

How To Document Employee Performance Issues

Whether you're an HR professional, manager, or small business owner, this guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to handle employee performance issues.

Blog Author - Justworks
Jun 25, 20244 minutes
Blog Author - Justworks

Justworks is a technology company that levels the playing field for all small businesses. Through our software and as a partner, we help our customers take care of their teams, streamline their operations, and navigate the complex aspects of managing a workforce with confidence.

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From entrepreneurs to supervisors at large organizations, everyone who oversees employees needs to know how to document employee performance issues precisely and objectively. Proper documentation plays an important role in managing employee productivity and performance and is also critical for compliance purposes.

Ready to learn more about documenting performance issues? You’ve come to the right place. This informative guide focuses on how to document employee performance effectively, both for developmental and compliance purposes. You'll learn about the steps involved in the documentation process and how to maintain impartiality in your records, as well as explore how performance-tracking tools and software can help streamline and ensure consistency in performance records.

Understanding the Importance of Documentation

Understanding the importance of documentation is the first step toward effective overall performance management. From initial corrective feedback to formal performance improvement plan (PIP), employee performance documentation serves several important developmental and compliance-related purposes, such as: 

  • Providing a factual record of an employee's work performance 

  • Supporting feedback provided in employee performance reviews 

  • Backing up personnel decisions related to employee performance 

  • Providing clear documentation of performance issues and steps taken 

From a legal perspective, documentation of employee performance issues is an important safeguard. It provides a clear record of any performance-related problems, the feedback given, and the actions taken to address these issues. This can be invaluable in cases of regulatory agency investigations or legal disputes, protecting the organization from potential fines or lawsuits.

Developmental Role of Documentation

On the developmental side, documentation serves as a tool for growth. It allows managers to track progress, identify patterns, and develop targeted improvement plans. By documenting performance issues, managers can provide specific, constructive feedback, helping employees understand where they need to improve and how to do it.

Tips for Effective Documentation

Performance documentation should be objective, free from bias, timely, and based on facts. Follow the tips below to ensure that any documentation you create is as effective as possible. 

1. Maintain Objectivity

When documenting performance issues, it's essential to start with an objective mindset. This means focusing on facts and observable behaviors rather than personal feelings or assumptions. For example, instead of writing, "John is lazy," it would be better to state, "John has missed three project deadlines in the past month."

This approach not only helps to ensure fairness but also makes the feedback more useful to the employee. By providing specific, objective examples of where a team member is falling short, you provide them with a clear roadmap for improvement.

2. Remain Bias-Free

Impartiality is key to maintaining fair and effective performance documentation that is free from bias. Managers should strive to avoid bias, focusing solely on job-related behaviors and performance. 

3. Provide Timely Feedback

Timeliness is a critical factor in documenting performance issues. Managers should aim to document issues as soon as they occur. This ensures that details are fresh in their mind and that feedback can be provided promptly.

Delaying documentation can lead to forgotten details or allow small issues to escalate. By documenting and addressing issues promptly, managers can help employees correct their course before problems become ingrained habits.

4. Stick to the Facts

Performance documentation must be based on factual information. Rather than relying on memory or impressions, managers should document specific instances of performance issues, including dates, times, and any relevant context. This approach provides a clear, fact-based record of performance, which is exactly what should be included in performance documentation. 

Performance Tracking Tools and Software

In today's digital age, you don’t have to rely on paper documentation and filing cabinets. Instead, many helpful software applications designed to streamline the process of documenting and tracking employee performance are available. Using HR tools can automate the documentation process, making it easier to record, store, and retrieve performance data. They can also provide valuable analytics, helping managers, HR professionals, and small business owners identify trends and patterns in employee performance.

Use Documentation to Conduct Effective Performance Reviews

Employee performance reviews provide an opportunity to discuss performance, celebrate achievements, and set goals for the future. However, for performance evaluations to be effective, they must be based on accurate and objective data. The documentation that you prepared throughout the rating period will help you craft effective evaluations as part of your company’s performance review process

When documenting employee performance issues, it's crucial to consider the legal implications. For example, it’s important to avoid including language that could be construed as guaranteeing employment for a specific period of time or that is inconsistent with your company’s policies or compliance obligations. Proper documentation can protect your organization in case of legal disputes or claims of unfair treatment.

However, it's equally important to ensure that the documentation process respects employee rights. This includes maintaining confidentiality, avoiding discriminatory language, and providing employees with access to their records. Always consult with a legal expert to ensure your documentation practices comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

How Justworks Can Help

Are you ready to take your company’s performance documentation, and other administrative tasks, to the next level? Justworks is here to help. Through our Professional Employer Organization (PEO) offering, we can help you streamline payroll, onboarding, and benefits administration while also providing compliance support so you can focus on the important task of managing employee performance while also building your business. 

As a Justworks customer, you’ll also have access to experienced HR consultants who can provide expert insights on performance documentation and management. Get started with Justworks today!

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Justworks
Jun 25, 20244 minutes

Justworks is a technology company that levels the playing field for all small businesses. Through our software and as a partner, we help our customers take care of their teams, streamline their operations, and navigate the complex aspects of managing a workforce with confidence.

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