The worst thing I have ever seen manager’s do is attempt to use the threat of documentation to try to elicit improved performance or behavior from an employee. When I worked as a Sales Manager for a large fashion retailer in the DC Metro area, my store manager once said to me “I’m gonna write you up!”
Managers, let’s get something straight here, YOU are responsible for holding your employees accountable to the standards of your organization, not a piece of paper. Written documentation during the disciplinary process should serve two purposes: 1) it should serve as a written record that you have in fact discussed/coached/warned your employee about the poor performance and/or improper behavior 2) it should also serve as a written record of the performance improvement plan that both you and your employee have agreed to. The written documentation in this situation can be referred back to by the manager/employer if further disciplinary action is needed, just as much as it can be referred back to by the employee should the manager deviate from the agreed upon improvement performance plan.
That’s all that documentation is…a written record of a transpired event. The “write-up” isn’t the one holding the employee accountable, you as the manager are the one responsible for that accountability. You should be the one having conversations, coaching sessions, meetings, etc. You shouldn’t be using the threat of documentation to scare employees into improving. Actually the fact that you do so speaks volumes of what kind of a manager you probably are, and how ineffective you truly are at being able to lead others. Hiding behind a “write-up” shows that you don’t have the courage to talk one on one with employees about their poor performance, behavior, etc.. It’s a pretty good indicator that you probably shouldn’t be managing others – plain & simple.
Case in point, (fyi…I was involuntarily let go from the aforementioned employer) and during my last day there, the store manager was hidden in his office the entire day, not once did the manager show that he had the courage to have a frank discussion with me in person about the issues at hand and the disciplinary actions I faced. Once I went home (after being suspended by the HR manager) I get a call on the phone the following day from the store manager to let me know I have been terminated (terminating someone over the phone is a separate issue that is another No-No, but we’ll talk about how to properly terminate someone in another post). As I look back on that, as well as; other examples of piss poor managers, and reflect on my own experience as a manager and my success in leading others, my best advice to other managers is: don’t be a wimp, learn how to have open and honest communication with your employees, they’ll respect you more for it.