Let’s assume you’re having some challenges with a problematic employee, and you’ve scheduled time to discuss the issues. You know you need to document the meeting, but what does that really mean. How do you document effectively?
The most important thing to remember is your documentation needs to substantiate why you are having the meeting, what was covered, and what steps come next. You need to consider the possibility that an attorney may one day have this piece of documentation, and what you write needs to help support the actions you took with this employee.
Effective documentation starts with the date and time of the meeting in addition to who was present. Next, you want to clearly write the reasons for the meeting by listing specific events that occurred as well as prior conversations you may have had with the employee about the issues at hand. Effective documentation would state, “The employee was late on 10/1/12 and 10/2/12,” instead of, “The employee has attendance issues.”
The meat of the documentation needs to cover the facts of the meeting with an objective viewpoint, not subjective. Leave conjecture about someone’s home life, for example, out of your notes. List job descriptions, office policies, and/or protocols that you reference and review during the meeting.
If the employee says something noteworthy, use exact quotes. John said, “I do not respect the way you run your practice, and I don’t respect you as my boss.” This is significant. And it’s much stronger than writing, “John does not like me.”
Finally, if you are reviewing a written warning, make sure the employee signs it, and give the employee a copy.
Dealing with staff conflict is stressful enough without having problems escalate because you lack effective documentation to support disciplinary actions. Take the extra steps now to save yourself from much bigger headaches in the future.
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