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Employers negative documentation tricks! Part 1

Employers are commonly advised by their lawyers to focus on documentation, documentation and more documentation when it comes to…

  • complaints
  • discipline issues
  • job evaluations
  • medical leave
  • salaries and benefits
  • harassment
  • discrimination
  • disability

…and more. Why?

Because they know how important it is to be able to “justify” why they fire, demote, not promote, negatively evaluate, deny training, etc. Don’t get me wrong all employers are not out to get us, it just seems that way sometimes ;0)

Companies are advised to place a lot of importance on documentation to weather the storm of lawsuits that can and do occur. Since documentation is important to employers, shouldn’t it be important to employees! I’m always amazed at the types of employment questions I get from people who have failed to do just that.

They find themselves in the midst of an adverse employment action and have no written record to support their position. “My boss never said that was part of my job, so why is she now saying I’m not doing my job!” This is one of the reasons all employees should make it their business to document various job situations that may affect them positively or negatively. The company’s documentation of all policies and procedures should be very specific and easily understood. Here is what you should look for from your employer’s documentation in the area of performance.

Employee conduct needing to change

Your boss should describe the conduct, not describe you. All the documentation about you should be objective and not subjective. For example, “You have the type of personally that turns people off”, is describing you and is subjective. “Your co-workers are missing some points when you perform the ABC function”, describes the conduct and is objective.

What does your boss expect from you?

A company’s expectations should be spelled out specifically and easy to understand. For example, A job description may say, “expected to be on time”, “work documents turned in on time”, or my favorites, “other duties as needed” or “other related duties as required”. The following is better, “Your work schedule starts at 9:00 a.m.” and “Work documents should be given to supervisor by 5:00 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.”

When I see my two favorites in a job description, I always make sure the employer tells me EXACTLY what they mean in the job interview. In an interview for a degreed systems IT position I asked what does “other duties as needed” mean? I was told “mopping floors”. Hmmmm…houskeeping duties are associated with maintaining computer systems and pc networks?!?

Exact steps to meet goals

Our employers should give specific details on what steps we should take to improve job performance. “Our production procedure is going to be changing starting next week so be ready.” The following is better. “I have outlined step by step what the current change in the workload is and the tools you will need to perform these changes to meet department production.”

In my own employment experience, understanding how employers document me and how I document them has been critical. In fact, had I not learned how and what to document I would be talking about my job in past tense instead of present tense. That’s all for now, in the next post I’ll detail steps in “bulletproofing” how, what and when to document if the boss decides to do you in!



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