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HR Corner
Posted 10/26/2015
Author Carrie Cherveny
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There is one time of the year that managers dread more than tax season – performance review season! One of the most difficult employee relations activities is also one of the most important – documenting employee performance issues.  In today’s extraordinarily litigious society, performance feedback can have a six-figure impact on an employer.

What employers often miss is that written documentation, while difficult to create and even more difficult to deliver, sets everyone up for success.  Employees who have a clear and written account of their performance issues have a genuine opportunity to correct their behavior and succeed in your organization. 

However, consistency is of paramount importance. Employers who provide feedback on a sporadic or inconsistent basis set themselves up for trouble.  Consistent feedback and documentation across the organization demonstrates to “inquiring minds” an employer’s legitimate and good faith efforts to address employee performance issues. 

When it comes to employment litigation, perception is reality.  Employees talk to each other – a lot! They know who’s been disciplined, who hasn’t been disciplined, and why – they compare notes. An employee who may be disciplined for the same misconduct as another will surely feel singled out if their coworker wasn’t likewise disciplined. An employee’s perception that he or she has been treated unfairly often leads to claims and litigation.  An EEOC claim or lawsuit is, oftentimes, the employee’s avenue to find justice.  When an employee is provided with written documentation he or she will have a more difficult time believing, or convincing others, that he or she has suffered some form of discrimination or retaliation.

The question I’m most often asked is “how” – how do I write the documentation? How do I deliver the news? Here are some guidelines for the “how”:

·         Don’t wait – deliver timely feedback – memories fade and it’s important that the employee have a clear and recent recollection of the events and circumstances or you may lose a valuable learning opportunity

·         Be clear and concise – don’t lose the message in the words – wordy and verbose feedback can have exactly the opposite effect – the employee may not understand the message and instead, will feel confused, frustrated, and leave the meeting with a negative attitude

·         Don’t go it alone – managers should never put themselves in a he said/she said position – always deliver performance reviews and discipline with a witness

·         Offer resources – set your employees up for success – you’ve invested time and money in hiring, training, and developing your employees – set them up to succeed – offer resources and tools when appropriate/applicable to help the employee overcome his/her performance challenges

Please be sure to join our upcoming Webinar “Protecting Your Business form HR Liability” Series 2 on November 5th at 2pm:

In the 2nd series – “Discipline & Termination” you will learn about the important considerations regarding:

·         Protected Classes

·         Documentation/Performance Management

·         Terminating Employees

Register Here

About the Author: 

Carrie B. Cherveny, Esq. | Vice President of Employment Practices

Carrie Cherveny is an experienced employment law defense attorney who leads our human resources services and legal department at AlphaStaff!



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