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Documentation: Find the time

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Documentation: Find the time.

Take the time to do your documentation.

As HR professionals, we are told to document everything.  The reality is, we tend to document when we think we may have an issue on the horizon.  Even then, oftentimes we hope for the best. After all, who has the time?

I am here to say…MAKE THE TIME!  You will thank yourself later.

In a perfect world, we should document all conversations that involve conflict, complaints or just give us that uneasy feeling.  You should figure out a way to find the time to do your documentation. Yes, you should but you rarely do. How do do you get better? What is necessary to make sure you are documenting what you will need? How do you know we are documenting correctly?

It is really very simple, but it does take time.
  1. Document while it is fresh.  Do it now.  I have, on occasion, typed notes as I was talking with the employee.  I will caution you, the employee may deem this inappropriate but you be the judge based on the conversation. Explain the why of your note taking. I promise, you will not remember everything if you do not document soon after the conversation. 
  2. Any conversations with employees with regards to performance, discipline or behaviors,  should be documented. I cannot speak for the rest of the world but in my world, I cannot begin to remember all of my employee conversations. The documentation should include both good and poor performance conversations, complaints, issues and anything else that you think may resurface again.
  3. It does not have to be complex. It is not necessary to document every word of a conversation. It is important that you make sure the conversation is documented with facts, the date, approximate time and include all participants. 
  4. You should document all conversations and those conversations should be documented without emotion.  Do not make assumptions. We cannot document “He looked mad” or “She seemed upset”. Those are statements that we cannot prove.  However, we can say, “he/she stated that he was mad” or “he/she was crying”. 
  5. This documentation is not about you or what you think. It is about the facts of the conversation.  If you have an opinion, leave it out of the document.  
  6. Collect the facts! Only the facts. If you document anything other than facts, your documentation will be deemed biased.
  7. Remember, these documents can help you build a case or better yet, help you avoid a case, if ever needed. 

Make the time. Do it Now!

For more information on workplace documentation or dealing with conflict, contact me at 


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