We continue our supervisor's core training program with employee write-ups. One of the first lessons companies need to convey to supervisors is a continuous requirement to document all matters pertaining to employees, in a clear and unambiguous style. Here is yet another area where attorneys are having a field day bringing lawsuits against companies.
Never Been Trained
One question I pose to human resources (HR) professionals across the country is, "when is the last time you gave a proper documentation class to supervisors?" More often than not the reply is "never." Since the supervisor is the first line of defense against employee lawsuits, doesn't it make sense to have them trained on the documents absolutely crucial to the company litigation success?
Many times the supervisor hasn't a clue to why certain documents are important, if and when, a charge is made against the company. Here are a few attorneys will go over with a fine tooth comb:
1. Supervisor termination notes: attorneys look for certain things often buried deep in these notes. Simple things the untrained eye can easily overlook.
2. Discipline letters: attorneys comb through these letters to see if everything stated is factual, and to see if the supervisors have embellished any material facts.
3. Performance write-up (PW): there are certain words that supervisors are never to use in a PW. Having said this, supervisors' must receive core training to never ever try to interpret employee behavior. Only describe what happened during the particular incident.
Never Interpret Behavior
For example a supervisor may document that during a discipline meeting with the employee, the employee turned over the table, and begin to act crazy. Documented this way, it becomes an interpretation of the incident (an assumption). Why, because you have to be a trained professional to declare someone "crazy." A better approach is to document that the employee became irritable, began to shout loudly in the room, turned the table over, and began to make threats of bodily harm to the supervisor. Then record what those threats entailed. A jury now decides if the actions were "crazy," not the supervisor.
State Only Facts
It is of utmost importance to train your supervisors to stick with only the facts. Never include third party heresy of what another employee thought they heard or saw. If they were not a first hand witness to the facts, don't include this in official documents. The attorney could later spin that employee's words to the company's disadvantage. For example, an employee claims they heard another employee say the person who committed the act was wearing a red shirt. Not good, because they were not an actual witness to the person wearing the red shirt, and witness to the alleged act.
Set Clear and Measurable Goals
Finally, make sure everyone of your supervisors understand what acceptable documentation looks like and how good performance is measured. Don't just tell supervisors their paperwork is rejected; explicate clearly the reasons why and get them into either an initial documentation class, or a refresher course.
One of the first lessons companies need to convey to supervisors is a continuous requirement to document all matters pertaining to employees, in a clear and unambiguous style. Make sure all your supervisors understand what acceptable documentation looks like
© 2009 Cubie Davis King. All Right Reserved.
Dr. Cubie Davis King., is an international Performance Technologist with a Ph.D in Training & Performance Improvement,. His resume includes 9 years military service, and executive positions with Xerox & CitiGroup, Dr. King has won top performance awards at every level in his storied career. He is considered a foremost leader in employee performance improvement. Dr. King is an adjunct professor at National University San Diego, CA.
His latest work is The Supervisor's Core Training System. To read more and to contact Dr King go directly to his website @ http://www.goldcrowninc.com
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