7 Steps to Create Bulletproof Employee Documentation

Nothing has a stronger impact in resolving employment disputes amicably more than documentation.

Employee documentation is helpful in many ways, including:

  1. It safeguards critical information and provides a record of factual information.
  2. It ensures consistency, standardization, and efficiency.
  3. It provides helpful guidance for performance reviews.
  4. Reduces litigation

Accurate documentation creates credibility for employers and ensures they are treating employees fairly.  However, many companies make mistakes in documentation. Let the experienced team of  human resource recruiters  here at ISC outline 7 steps to create useful documentation.

1.    Outline the Organization’s Expectations

Documenting the organization’s expectations for each specific role within the team is essential, regardless of industry. Take your time when creating this document. Aim to be as detailed as possible.

2. Describe Specific  Performance/Behavior That Requires Change

If an employee isn’t performing well, employers need to document it.  Focus on describing the shortfalls, not the individual.  After ensuring that expectations have been clearly relayed, document objective criteria when outlining shortfalls.

When it comes to behavioral infractions, explicitly address the behavior, why it is against company policy, and the repercussions if it continues.

Read More: Dos & Don’ts of Documenting Employee Behavior & Performance

3.    Include Employee’s Response/Explanation

There are two sides to every coin.  Employees may have a good reason if their performance is not up to par.  It’s essential to include the employee’s response and the explanation they provide.  This ensures that there is two-way communication.  It also helps tie someone to their story if it comes up later.

For behavioral infractions, occasionally cultural differences come into play and an employee may inadvertently do something that is against company policy, without intention. By allowing them to share their reasoning, while still emphasizing that the behavior in question is not tolerated within the organization, allows them to go on record and essentially save face, while getting them to acknowledge that they now understand the policy and obtaining an assurance that it will not happen again.

4. Detail Goals and Steps to Achieve Them

Detailing an action plan (and documenting it) is extremely important.  It maps out the steps one needs to take to achieve long-term goals.  An action plan is also necessary when an employee needs to fix behavioral issues.

This action plan needs a crystal clear set of goals the employee will have to work towards.  It should also outline the necessary steps they must take to get there, as well as the repercussions if they fail to hit these benchmarks, or if the unacceptable behavior continues.

5. Set an Expected Time Frame for Behavior to be Corrected or Performance to be Improved

Companies should always set goals for their employees combined with a specific time to achieve those goals.

Avoid vague statements such as “as soon as possible” since these statements are open to interpretation.

6.    Consistently Follow-Up 

Once you’ve established the time frame for employees to correct their behavior or improve performance, follow up consistently and on the specified deadline.

Inspect What you Expect!

Keep a record of your follow-up meetings and employees’ explanations.  In addition, record if the employee needs more training or if they need additional corrective measures.

7.   Use Clear Language

Above all, avoid vague clauses or phrases in documentation, as they can be grounds for discrimination in lawsuits.  Gender, race, and nationality are protected under federal civil rights.

Never terminate employees because they’re not a good “cultural fit” or have a bad attitude.

If you’re looking to attract the right talent or need executive human resource services, we can help!

Since 1999 ISC has been providing top talent to our Clients across the US. We invest in literally every high-tech tool available to allow us to strategically target and deliver exceptional candidates to our clients interview tables.

We employ a robust search methodology, and the fact that our team of veteran executive recruiters are the #1 most recommended search firm in the US speaks to our abilities to introduce top-performing talent as well as our exacting levels of customer service.

Contact ISC today to learn more about our executive recruitment services.

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Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of ISC and can be reached at  or via direct dial at 888-866-7276.

Carolyn McClendon is a Senior Executive Recruiter with ISC and can be reached at  or direct dial at 888-974-0086.