You do not have time to NOT manage employee performance! If managing employee performance is not a high priority for you on a daily basis, your employees may not be receiving the support and feedback they need to be effective. It is the manager/supervisor’s job to spend time helping employees be successful. And, employees expect and want frequent feedback. It’s your job to provide the feedback and keep a record of it.
Complete performance documentation indicates to employees that you are serious about supporting their performance. It also helps you prepare a well-supported performance evaluation when the time comes.
Here are a few tips for making performance documentation a priority in your day to day routine:
Keep a File for Each Employee
Unfortunately many supervisors do not have a filing system for keeping performance-related documentation. It’s really easy. Just one manila folder with the employee’s name on it is all you need! You may also maintain an electronic folder in Outlook or on your desktop. These files are essential for keeping the notes, letters of commendation, training certificates, and quantitative performance records that verify the employee’s success. If you don’t keep these records, who will?
Use a Performance Log
Even if you have a filing system, you may forget to add important things to it on a regular basis. Try using a performance log. Keep one hard or soft copy for each employee and whenever anything happens that you want to remember (positive, negative, or neutral), make a note on the log. Keep an electronic log, if you prefer. Use Microsoft Word, Excel, or whatever note taking app you prefer. Just think…if you were to make one entry per week in each employee’s log, you would have made over 50 entries per employee at the end of a year. These entries then become the basis for the employee’s performance evaluation.
Regularly Scheduled Meetings
This sounds like a simple solution, but many managers say they don’t have time to meet on a regular basis with each employee. Plan to meet on a regular (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) basis with each employee. This meeting doesn’t have to last for more than ten or fifteen minutes. It can be in the office or conducted more informally over lunch or coffee. The important thing is that you are giving feedback to the employee on a regular basis and not just at performance evaluation time. During each meeting, take notes. Now you have documentation.
Use the Performance Evaluation Form to Record Performance Examples
If your organization has an old-style paper performance evaluation form, save one copy of that form for each employee. As the employee’s performance is observed throughout the year, record examples of the performance in the appropriate category on the form. At the end of the year when the performance evaluation is due, you will have a head start on making comments on the performance evaluation.
Technology has revolutionized how we maintain documentation. Simple emails provide strong documentation. Smartphone apps facilitate note taking (tools like OneNote or Evernote) and allow for easy upload to your files. Online performance management systems have built in performance logs, complete with spell checkers and compliance checkers. If you are still keeping performance documentation with paper and pencil, it might be time to look around for more efficient and convenient approaches.
You’re busy with meetings to attend, customers to serve, and fires to put out. It’s easy to forget to keep the notes that will be most helpful to you and your employees. Keep better performance documentation and the preparation of performance evaluations will be painless.