If you have a problem with someone on your team your boss might have told you…“Make sure you document everything. Build a case for HR.”
Half of this advice is right. And half is dead wrong! Because leaders and managers AREN’T lawyers! It’s not our job to build cases against people. It’s our job to support them and lift them up!
So today we’re going to talk about why you SHOULD document everything, and why you SHOULDN’T be thinking about “building a case for HR”.
Let’s start with why you SHOULD document everything.
Whenever you’re dealing with a performance or conduct issue, you MIGHT end up in a formal process, and in that process you’re going to need documentation about what happened, what they did and said, and what you did and said…
But. You don’t have to make this complicated. It’s as simple as sending an email.
The rule is… If you EVER have a conversation with someone about a performance or conduct issue, you follow that conversation up with an email, setting out the key things you discussed.
If your organisation doesn’t use email just write YOURSELF a note in your diary, or send YOURSELF an email.
And ONE reason you do this is so that if you DO end up in a formal process you’re ready for it.
BUT… It’s not the only reason. It’s not even the most important reason.
And this is where we’re getting into what’s WRONG and why you SHOULDN’T be thinking about “building a case for HR”.
You see… if you start off with the attitude that you’re building a case, you are ASSUMING that your job is to help HR PROSECUTE a case. You’re assuming that this will end in the employee being disciplined or fired through an HR process.
And that’s a rotten way to SERVE your colleague as their manager.
Your job as a leader is to do everything you can to enable your team’s success. It’s to do everything you can to GROW the individuals that report to you. It’s your job to challenge and encourage your people to give 100% in support of the business.
So. If you have a performance or conduct issue to tackle… Your job isn’t to “build a case” AGAINST them. Your job is to HELP THEM by giving them every chance to turn that issue around.
So. The main reason to document conversations in writing is to HELP YOU CREATE CLARITY for your colleague and give you a REFERENCE POINT should you need to come back to anything.
And yes. If you get to an “HR stage” later on, you can use those emails or notes to demonstrate that you did everything you could as a leader to clarify expectations and support your colleague.
So… Do document everything. But not because you’re the district attorney “building a case”. Do it because you’re a leader, supporting your colleague to deliver what the business needs.
And by the way… You should be supporting your colleagues in EVERY conversation with them… Not just the difficult ones. And to help with that, I’ve put together a cheatsheet PDF for great one to one meetings with your team, and you can grab it at leadershipjetway.com/perfect121
It’s a really simple and it’s my gift to you because I’m all about helping new leaders make a flying start!
Grab it by hitting the button below.