The Supervisor's Toolbox: Documentation

"If you didn't write it down it did not happen!" is an old phrase that is still valid today. Unfortunately, documentation is the most neglected supervisory activity. For many supervisors and managers, busy with their daily work, documentation seems like an unnecessary burden. Supervisors feel this way right up to the time they walk into the Human Resources Department demanding approval to terminate a problem employee. Without supporting documentation, then a supervisor’s ability to act is extremely limited.

Supervisors must focus upon performance and behavior in their documentation. Do not rely upon "gut instinct" or unprofessional diagnosis.

When documenting a specific event, your documentation must be:

  • Factual – What did you see? Who was involved? When did it happen? What did witnesses report?
  • Objective – Meaning unbiased. This record should not indicate anything about how you feel towards the employee.
  • Timely – Document immediately after the event or within the next day or two. Anything after that means details will be lost.
  • Discussed – Review the record with the employee so that he/she knows you’re monitoring his/her work performance.