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Document what you see

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

We often urge you to document poor performance. Keeping written records of an employee’s substandard actions or behavior gives you more disciplinary options if problems worsen.

To document properly, write what you see (not what you think!). Describe what’s observable and skip the commentary.

Rather than write, “Jim mistreated a co-worker and behaved inappropriately,” jot what you observed: “Jim said to Clark, ‘Get out of my face,’ and, with both arms outstretched, shoved Clark. Clark stumbled backward.”

By narrating what happened, your documentation carries more legal weight. It shows you’re describing reality ra-ther than drawing inferences.

The same rule applies when higher-ups seek your opinion about one of your subordinates. By sharing a series of observations, you let listeners arrive at their own conclusions. If you render judgments (“Alice is error-prone”), they may ask for examples to substantiate your claims.

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