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  • Writer's pictureKaren Williams

Why Written Documentation Really Does Matter

For Both Company and Employees, Doing it Right is The Right Thing to Do

Your IT team is incredibly important to the success of your company. Although your product isn’t IT support, your IT employees take care of customer service support for both your internal customers and your external customers.

Roger is a member of your IT team who struggles with good customer service skills. His technical work is great. He jokes that he is the IT stereotype: very introverted, uncomfortable with women, and engaged in conversation only when discussing technical issues. As he says, he loves machines, and he doesn’t understand why people don’t understand computers since they make so much sense.

Ever since Roger started working for your company a year ago, you have received feedback about his poor customer service skills. You talked with him frequently and shared this feedback when he first started. People said he was mean, that they thought he viewed them as stupid, described him as short tempered, etc. Roger agreed, saying that machines make more sense to him than people do, and that the people part of the job was the part he disliked. He said he would try to improve, so you sent him to a weeklong customer service skills class. No improvement.

After your company started to grow, you put into place an employee handbook with policies to help guide your staff. You included a policy on how to handle poor performance and termination that you had hoped to never use, but Roger’s customer service struggles forced you to follow through on tough feedback.

You worked through your policy guidelines and gave Roger several warnings. Your HR consultant helped you with the wording of each document you gave him, going over the issues. To your extreme frustration, Roger was not able to improve despite the fact you told him repeatedly in writing and in conversations that he had to fix this problem.

The complaints continued, so you had to let Roger go. You like Roger, and you always treated him with respect even during tough conversations, and it was difficult terminating him. You had your HR consultant present during the termination, and Roger invited both of you to his termination party that evening.

Soon afterwards, you received notification from the state unemployment agency saying Roger had applied for unemployment benefits.

Your file and all the written documentation on Roger’s performance issues were well organized, so you could back up every discussion you had with him. When the unemployment hearing took place, you went over all your material with the hearing officer.You were later notified that Roger’s unemployment claim had been denied.

  • Why was it worth the trouble to document the problems with Roger in writing?

  • How did your written documentation help you win the unemployment hearing?

  • How can thorough documentation help you win any other potential claims, such as discrimination?

  • How did the written documentation and verbal conversations help Roger and the unemployment office understand the performance issues?

  • Did you do everything you could to make the situation work with Roger?

  • No, you don’t want to have to terminate one of your employees, but sometimes there is a “good termination.” How do you make a termination as clean as possible?

  • Did you ever take any action that hurt Roger’s dignity? Why is that important?


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Remember, supervisory training for those who manage your employees is a good investment and is important to your business. We here at MGMTinsight can help. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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