Managing church employees can be a very rewarding experience because influencing and participating in an employee’s professional development is just fun!
However, there are those difficult times when an employee just isn’t the right fit and needs to move on.
These are very stressful times that result in lost sleep for the involved manager.
What adds to the difficulty is the sudden realization that the proper documentation of the months of issues is missing.
What is the first question asked? “Did you document?”
Documentation is much easier said than done.
We all have good intentions but when time is short and responsibilities are great, documentation is often something that gets lost in the shuffle.
The whole point of documentation is to have the pertinent information available to justify performance appraisal scores or disciplinary action.
It is important to focus on making notes on every employee conversation that involves performance or compliance with policies and procedures – both good and bad.
4 Employee Documentation Mistakes
1. Unclear Expectations
I’m always amazed at how many managers never have a conversation with employees about the details of the job.
It is only fair to make sure that employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
This conversation should be done at least annually and be part of the employee management process.
2. Not Having a Documentation Process
One mistake managers make is not creating an employee documentation process.
This process does not need to be complex but does need to be consistent.
This can be as simple as a handwritten log for each employee or using an electronic document to note conversations, issues and employee corrections.
It is difficult to justify corrective actions or termination without a detailed history to support it.
3. Vague Information
Documented information does not need to be a dissertation but it does need to have enough information to base an action on.
For example, “Customer service issue with Steve today” is pretty vague, however, “There was an issue with Steve today being rude to a customer.
Steve left Mr. Wilson on hold for 6 minutes without offering Mr. Wilson an explanation or response to his issue.”
Remember to include enough information to tell the story of the incident if needed months down the road.
4. Opinion Not Fact
As human beings we have the tendency to bring biases to the workplace.
For this reason it is important to think about that when documenting and making sure that documentation is based on fact and not opinion.
For example, “Charlie submitted his proposal after it was due”, but the fact is, “Charlie submitted his proposal 30 minutes after it was due in my office due to an issue with his printer.”
The difference in wording can paint a very different picture of the incident.
Yes Charlie was late but when reviewing performance will 30 minutes be critical considering he had printer issues?
Managers wear many hats and juggle lots of different responsibilities making it challenging to be consistent with employee documentation.
Creating a documentation process that is consistent and based on factual clear information is the best approach to maintaining useful employee file information.
Good employee documentation allows for unbiased evaluations and provides critical information when justifying an employee raise or corrective actions are necessary.
If you would like to access an editable copy of a note taking log and other HR form examples click here.