The need for Structure and Documentation in Performance Management

31/08/2022 0 By indiafreenotes

In the world of human resources and employment, documentation about an employee’s performance can make or break your ability to discipline, terminate, or fairly promote, reward, and recognize employees.

Documentation is essential for managers and HR staff because you need to make a serious effort to record all of the events in the employment history of your employees both positive and negative incidents of performance.


  • Documentation offers a history of the employee’s improvement or failure to improve performance over time. It is chronological and a precise description of the employee’s actions, the manager’s actions, and events as they occur.
  • Documentation provides evidence that performance issues were discussed with the employee in a timely and concise fashion.
  • Documentation provides evidence that supports management decisions to take unfavourable action such as discipline or termination with an employee.
  • Documentation offers proof that an employee deserves an available promotion or opportunity over other employees who are also eligible.
  • Documentation provides evidence to justify salary increases, decreases, or why an employee received no raise.
  • In the event of a lawsuit, complete and thorough documentation protects an employer’s interests. The documentation can support management’s actions in terminating an unsuccessful employee. It also can prove that the employee was terminated for reasons that are legal as opposed to others such as illegal discrimination.

Things to remember when recording your annual staff assessments.

  1. Follow a consistent format.

The payoff is that a well-documented assessment makes it easy for you (and your employee) to review performance progress or regress. It can help reduce your legal risk if an employee needs to be performance managed or perhaps dismissed. To help guide you through how to document the performance reviews, here are some key components worth factoring in.

  1. Record essential information

This should come at the top of the document and include the basics such as the date, employee name, department, employment status, manager’s name and performance period. Get this information right now, and you will only need to make minor amendments for the next review.

  1. Have a performance goals rating system

To determine the rating you wish to assign to each of your employee’s performance goals, we suggest using a numerical system for example:

  • Being outstanding
  • Exceeds targets
  • Meets targets
  • Needs improvement
  • Unsatisfactory

NA for developing or not applicable

Using this system means when you and the employee both give a separate rating it should be clear what your agreed rating will be. This also helps form the discussion points around Key Performance Indicators, and whether the employee is performing as expected.

  1. Include job skills and personal attributes

These objectives might include sections such as Accountability, Initiative, Attention to Detail and Teamwork. Your review document should include space for the employee to comment including examples that back up the rating they give themselves. There should also be a space for you (or the manager) to comment in addition to a section for explaining the final rationale for the agreed rating.

Remember to record your observations about your employee’s job performance as objectively as possible, and tie your conclusions to hard data. By supporting your assessment with specific examples the employee can see exactly where they can improve. If the employee’s work is substandard, you suspect they might need to be performance managed, or even dismissed being able to provide documents that outline the steps you took to try and correct any performance issues will help reduce your legal risk if the matter ends up in court.

  1. Include a position description review

Before going any further, it’s important to review your employee’s existing position description to make sure it’s still relevant. During the course of a year, or even six months, many aspects of your employee’s role can change as your business grows or targets shift. Now’s the time to make any updates necessary to ensure your employee’s position description and key performance indicators reflect their current and ongoing role.

  1. Have development objectives

This is where you ask the employee to indicate what areas they would like to focus on during the coming months. In this section of the review document you can include questions such as: What new skills or behaviours would you like to work on in the coming year to support you in your role? Or: Are there any professional development opportunities you would like to undertake, relevant to your career goals?

  1. Overall performance review rating

Ask the employee to give an overall rating of their performance for the year. Then you do the same, and together you agree on the final rating. This is also where some forethought into the final message you would like to leave the employee with can be helpful. For example, Performance Reviews suggests writing down three things the employee did well during the year and two areas that most need improvement. Then, ask yourself: “What’s the single most important take away I want the employee to remember?” Refine your message to one key idea as your overall impression of their performance.

  1. Make sure you both Sign off.

It seems obvious, but be sure both you and the employee sign and date the document to show you’re in agreement about its contents. Technology now ensures companies can digitally document when a document is read, updated, and signed off. In the past HR administrators would utilise paper files and perhaps a spreadsheet, but with childHR the entire process can be documented online and stored for future reference.