Document, Document, Document

Remember to document the poor reviews in the official performance management system, including your own observations and employees' peer reviews.

It’s been said several times throughout this course, but nowhere is it more important than in this situation: document, document, document. Your notes are going to be Exhibit A in the upcoming discussions around this employee’s performance, so if your notes are empty, you’re going to get precisely nowhere in addressing the problem in any official capacity. (And remember, if we’re at this point, it’s because we need to engage the problem in an official capacity.)

Many companies will require your documentation to be in the formal performance management system, so if your notes are still in your notebook, it’s time to start gathering them and transcribing them into the official system. Dates, metrics, observations, everything you have goes in. If you have observations from your employees’ peers, spend a moment considering whether or not you want to anonymize the observation when putting it into the system—while the information in the performance management tool is legally supposed to be confidential, it’s not that hard sometimes to look at a anonymized direct quote and know who on the team said it. You may also want to refrain from entering direct quotes for the same reason. Feedback from your peer managers, however, generally doesn’t need to be anonymized, but as with all things in this chapter, it’s generally a good idea to check in with the HR team to see what guidelines they can offer and what requirements they need to enforce.

Additionally, keep your notebook handy with you for the next several months as you work through this performance issue. You will want to have it close by to jot quick observations and data points down as you work with your employee to address this issue. It’s easy to say to yourself, “Oooh, I gotta remember to write that down next time I’m back at my desk” and have it leave your head thirty seconds later, never to return.

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