HR professionals are hard to figure out sometimes. You want to fire someone and they say, “Hold on, where’s your documentation?”—as if you have time to document every little thing the guy does. You say to yourself, “I am a manager, not an attorney.”


HR wants documentation so that’s what you give them. This time they say you are “piling on,” and that it looks as though you are not being “even-handed.”

Sound familiar? Want to know what is going on? Here is the inside line: Many HR professionals see their role as a risk manager (for some, that is their role), always trying to play it safe to protect the corporation, its assets, and its reputation. Face it, the workplace has become a battleground of managers trying to squeeze every drop of productivity from the employees and employees expecting more and more for less and less. In the heat of things, it is easy to lose one’s cool and say or do things that could tick off an employee enough to seek an attorney.

Even if no law or statute has been broken, the HR professional’s role is to mitigate all risks. Just going through an investigation or being deposed is an energy drain that most companies will want to avoid. Once there is a climate of “complaining to get management’s attention,” it will take years to undo. So a leader’s best practice is to be diligent about documenting all important discussions and performance management observations on all employees.

Following are some helpful tips about documenting that can give you a fresh perspective about this important part of a leader’s job:

  • Be factual, be accurate. Do not embellish.
  • Remember that you are creating business records. Keep them professional and remember, too, that they are a reflection of you as a leader. 
  • Document as soon as possible to the event. Retroactive documentation is not as accurate as documentation done in real time.
  • Get the employee’s story before you make any disciplinary decisions.
  • Document what happened and why.
  • When in doubt, write it out. If you think you should be documenting, do it!


Join us for a FREE webinar next month on this important topic. Details below.


Friday, 11/18, 11:30–12:30 PST – “Lunch with Harry”

Learning Objectives

  • Understand  the value of Documenting.
  • Discover what should get Documented.
  • Discuss what should not get Documented.
  • Explore the best ingredients for Documentation.
  • Learn the best time to Document.

Click here to register for the “Lunch with Harry” – a free webinar about the important topic of Performance Management & Documentation


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