The Importance of Documentation
Ask any human resource professional about the importance of good documentation. All too often managers come to Human Resources with plans to terminate an individual's employment or take other disciplinary action without any supporting documentation.
What sorts of things does a conscientious manager commit to writing? Here are six situations that should prompt documentation:
Good workers become great employees when they're coached thoughtfully and effectively. When managers keep a written record of the coaching strategies and steps they've taken to help employees grow, it is solid evidence of an organization's honest efforts to help employees succeed.
Documenting performance reviews provides employees and managers with a road map of employees' career paths. In addition to identifying opportunities for development, the reviews should include plans for capitalizing on the employee's strengths.
This is an area where good records are an absolute must. By recording disciplinary steps, managers make sure employees are aware of possible consequences if behavior or performance issues are not resolved. Also, the employer has written proof it handled the situation in a way that was legal and consistent with the organization's written policy.
This is the final step in the progressive discipline process. Good documentation records all the efforts the organization made to resolve shortcomings prior to making this final decision.
Managers are wise to document employee complaints – even when they don't rise to the level of legal discrimination or bias. Most complaints do have a silver lining: When managers receive a complaint, it means the company has an opportunity to handle the problem in-house before it makes its way into the legal system. When tricky legal issues surround a complaint, Human Resources should be brought in. If the situation warrants an investigation, HR will need a written record of the employee's original statement.
If an employee files a claim with the EEOC or initiates legal action, the company will want to show how managers addressed the employee's concern and made a good-faith effort to resolve the problem. Thorough documentation not only lists workers' concerns, but stresses the steps managers took in attempts to correct the situation.
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