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The Importance of Documenting Subpar Performance and How to Do It Well

In an ideal workplace situation, continuous feedback should promote employee growth. However, what happens when those discussions are not working or have backfired? Speaking to individuals about their shortcomings is never easy and is even harder when it comes time to terminate someone. People can lose sleep over these difficult conversations. Here are tips on how to clearly document and communicate subpar performance.

One of the main reasons why documenting subpar performance is essential is for legal reasons. Not only are we a litigious society, but from a human perspective, people may feel that they have been wronged or were being treated unfairly. It can also be challenging for some people to take accountability for their shortcomings. Documentation forces the writer to be objective and focus on facts and outcomes.

The documentation should have:

· a plan with a well-established corrective action

· a description of an expected outcome

· a time frame in which the result is expected

The documentation process does not stop at the corrective action form – it is to be shared with the person to acknowledge and/or rebut it. Documentation will allow the supervisor to give a better picture when presenting it to the receiver. The receiver of this information can contribute to their own improvement or the individual can be reflective and can see if they are capable of the tasks at hand.

The manager or supervisor, can use the documentation to communicate what is expected in a concise, unbiased, and genuine way. It is especially important for the manager or supervisor to be self-aware of their emotional competencies during the conversation - negotiation, building support, patience, and empathy are helpful skills and characteristics to develop. If you prepare yourself well before the conversation, it can be a less stressful and a more manageable situation.

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