Employee’s Track Record

“I have a couple of employees who continue to occasionally disregard my rules. When it happens, I talk with them and they work harder for a while, then slip back into bad habits. What should I be doing to avoid this?”

Your HR Survival Tip

As you’ve already noticed, just having the same conversation time and time again doesn’t work. They aren’t changing because they know the worst you’ll do is have yet another conversation with them. If you aren’t documenting each conversation (and giving them a copy), you aren’t taking it any more seriously than they are.

Ideally, the personnel file is a record of each employee’s work life. No, this isn’t a minute-by-minute replay, but it should show the highlights. For example:

  • 2022-11-12 – Sam was 30 minutes late to work and said traffic was bad. I told him he should leave earlier so the traffic doesn’t affect his arrival time.
  • 2022-12-19 – Sam volunteered to work late to help me finish the Acme project so I met the client’s deadline.
  • 2023-01-07 – Sam was 60 minutes late to work and said he forgot to set his alarm. I warned him this wasn’t an acceptable excuse.
  • 2023-01-29 – Sam left 15 minutes early without permission. The next day he told me he was done with his work and thought it would be okay. I told him he must always talk with me first.
  • 2023-03-02 – Sam was 45 minutes late to work and told me he had a flat tire. However, another employee commented that Sam told him he was hungover. I met with Sam later that day and asked him and he admitted to the hangover. I warned him the lie and the reason was unacceptable.
  • 2023-03-17 – Sam was helping Joe and Betty with their work because he finished his project early. I complimented him on his teamwork.

As you can see, these notes are very short but there are a few key points. (1) Full dates (YYYY-MM-DD) so they are easily organized; (2) keep it short unless there is a full-blown event you need to explain; (3) be specific so anyone reading it can understand it, and (4) the outcome: what did you do about it?

When you write documentation like this, we can see Sam has a pattern of tardiness with weak excuses. If you want to officially put him on notice, you can cite the actual days he was late and why. That’s very powerful. On the other hand, if you’re doing an evaluation on Sam, you have the information needed to give examples of the area(s) he needs to work on but also specifically when he went above and beyond your expectations.

Your notes shouldn’t be all positive or all negative. Any disciplinary action or pat on the back will carry much more weight if you can be very specific with dates and events.

Don’t make this cumbersome. Figure out the best method to make notes that easily works for you and can be kept confidential. If you’re not sure your notes are usable, pretend an attorney is reading them… can s/he understand the notes without asking you questions?

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.