11 Oct Documenting Employee Performance – Tips to Make it Quick and Valuable
Sometimes being the boss or a manager means taking care of paperwork. Most people aren’t happy about the paper portion of their role as a leader. However, documenting employee performance – when they are doing well and when they aren’t – is crucial for both the manager and the employee. Documentation provides a record of employee achievements, areas for improvement, and is exceedingly valuable during performance evaluations (as opposed to the unfortunately common situation, where the manager’s brain can only recall recent achievements and infractions). It’s also helpful in decision-making regarding growth assignments and career planning.
A common complaint among leaders at all levels is, “I don’t have time to document something for my direct reports,” or “It just takes too long with 5 (or 10 or 20) people.” True. It does take some time. But one thing Business Results encourages clients to do to make things simple is just take 2 minutes to write 20 words about each of your employees, once a week on Tuesday. It’s a simple and fast way to have ongoing documentation for your team. The 20-words-in-2-minute-strategy allows mangers to have a standardized way to document performance, which also ensures that all employees are evaluated fairly and consistently.
Here are some other things to remember when documenting employee performance. Those 20 words need to include specific examples of both positive and negative behavior or performance. You want to acknowledge achievements, but you might also need to have tough conversations about areas that need work. Vague statements are useless. Be clear and specific. You want to clearly state the results achieved on specific assignments, or goals and deadlines that were missed when things don’t go as planned.
Remember to include feedback on how to enhance performance. Document Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals for each employee. Those 20 words can include regular updates on their progress toward their performance goals. Make sure you include training they attended, or skills acquired. This can help in tracking the employee’s professional growth.
The information you record should serve as a basis for routine performance discussions with employees. You want to have ongoing performance management conversations with your people. Yearly reviews don’t allow for people to improve performance as the year progresses. No one wants to wait 12 months to find out they aren’t doing as well as their leader expects. Especially if there’s no training, feedback, or assistance provided to aid expected progress. Additionally, be certain to review and update performance documentation regularly. This ensures that the records are current and reflective of the employee’s progress. Ask employees for their input on their performance documentation during your routine discussions. This can lead to more open communication with your team and a better understanding of their perspective.
As part of your records, you might include behaviors as they relate to the job, and those behaviors’ impact on the other people on their team, or their clients or vendors. Remember, as a manager, you need to be unbiased and objective when documenting performance. Avoid personal opinions or judgments. Of course, if urgent issues or incidents pop up that require immediate documentation, don’t wait. Write it down as soon as they occur. Waiting too long can lead to inaccurate or forgotten details.
You can also encourage employees to assess their own performance. This can provide valuable insights and promote self-reflection. If applicable and appropriate, include feedback from colleagues or team members. This provides a more comprehensive view of the employee’s performance.
One key bit of advice to remember is, of course, maintaining confidentiality. Performance documentation should always be kept confidential and secure. And make sure you loop in HR. They can assist you in understanding company policies and procedures related to performance documentation. More importantly, they will ensure you’re in compliance with any legal requirements.
Just remember, the managers who maintain accurate and helpful records of employee performance are the good bosses that help create a productive and trusted work environment. Need manager training, or coaching to help your people thrive? Contact us today!