Helpful tip for managers: Keep a performance log

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Here’s something I rarely observe managers do, but is immanently useful and helpful:  Keep a log of the employee’s behaviors and performance.

Here are a few reasons why it is useful:

1) It will help you remember all the stuff that happens over the course of the year

A lot of stuff happens of the course of the year, and it is hard to remember all of the details about what happened, what you said, what the employee did, and what were the results.  A week after an event, it’s easy to forget that something ever happened.  And when the situation is complex, it’s even harder to remember.  If you have a team larger than three people, which describes most managers, this is especially useful.

2) It makes your feedback more artful

As described elsewhere in this blog, the feedback you provide should be specific and immediate. If you do not keep a log, you will be less specific and less immediate, making for less artful feedback.  With a log, your details will be more crisp, your recommendations for preferred behavior will be understood, and your employee has the opportunity to improve.

3) It sets the record straight

A common phenomenon is to have the history written after an event.  The longer after the event, the  more the history changes.  Details and context are lost.  If you provide feedback to an employee, but forget what exactly was said and what the outcome was, then the employee (along with the employee’s surrounding efforts) will revise the history of the conversation and events.  It’s best to have your account of events handy.

4) It keeps you up to date

If you are not entering items into your log, you know you are falling behind in a key managerial duty—understanding the performance of your employees.  Without the log, this duty is essentially ignored entirely.

5) It helps you write the review

Many managers are asked to write an annual performance review of each of their employees.  Without the log, the tendency is to attempt to remember key events, accomplishments, and the like from memory.  This tends to be very selective and biased for events that occurred within the last month, and events that caused political trouble for you.  Forgetting the other achievements and behaviors of the employee is a recipe for the annual toxic performance review.  Having a more even-handed reminder and understanding of the events will make for a better review.

These are just a few reasons why keeping a log of employee performance and behaviors are helpful.  I’ll cover more reasons in future posts, along with how to use the log.  In my next few posts, I’ll describe the components of an employee log.

Do you keep a log of your employees?  What has been helpful about it?  If not, what has stopped you from keeping a log of your employees?  Have you ever wished you had a better recollection of things that happened over the course of the year?

When an employee does something wrong, it’s not always about the person. It’s about the system, too.

Providing corrective feedback: Trend toward tendencies instead of absolutes

Behavior-based language primer: Steps and Examples of replacing using adverbs

Behavior-based language primer for managers: Examples of how to improve employee corrective feedback and how to get rid of damaging adverbs

How to use behavior-based language to lead to evaluation and feedback

Behavior-based language primer for managers: How to tell if you are using behavior-based language

Behavior-based language primer for managers: Avoid using value judgments

Behavior-based language primer for managers: Stop using generalizations

Why the annual performance review is often toxic

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About Walter Oelwein
Walter Oelwein, CMC, CPT, helps managers become better at managing. To do this, he founded Business Performance Consulting, LLC .


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