Documenting Disciplinary Actions

After you've investigated the situations and dealt with the employee, you need to document the entire process starting with the complaint or incident and ending with the final resolution or action taken.

Whether you are coaching an employee for a performance problem or disciplining an employee for improper conduct, you must document your reasons for discipline, any fact-finding that you do, and the actions that you take.

There are a few compelling reasons for keeping good documentation:

Here are two common methods that you can use to document disciplinary actions:

Summaries. Summaries are good for instances where behavior is being tracked over an extended period of time. If you're using summaries to document discipline, be sure to include specific examples and information in your summaries to illustrate the problem.

Include the following information:

If the situation is more of a coaching situation than discipline for improper conduct, balance the document by reflecting the positive aspects of an employee's performance as well as performance problems. But don't be afraid to state or document the problems.

Fill-in forms. You may be able to save time by using a fill-in form. These are better for the one-time incident. They also help to standardize your documentation to the greatest extent possible. They can help to ensure that all disciplinary actions are analyzed, carried out, and documented consistently.

Business Tools

The Business Tools area contains a pre-designed disciplinary action form that you can tailor for use in your business.

You may choose to combine these methods, depending on your needs.

Other documentation. You can also consider having witnesses (if applicable) provide you with a written statement. Witnesses can be fellow workers, customers, or bystanders. Getting as much information from as many different perspectives as possible can help you make the best decision about disciplinary action. Documenting that information can help you defend that action.

Get the employee's signature. Documentation should allow for employee comments and signature. That way: