Important fields that an employee performance log should contain – Advanced Level
The Manager by Design blog advocate that people managers should keep some sort of log, easily created in a spreadsheet, that tracks the behaviors and performance of their employees. I provide a few reasons to do so here. In my previous posts, I provided the “beginner” and “intermediate” fields that ought to be in the log. These beginner-level fields focus on documenting the specific behavior using behavior-based language and the intermediate fields focus on providing performance feedback. Here are the fields:
|Item num-ber||Date||Name||Title||Con-text||Ob-served behavior||Pre-ferred behavior||Impact of ob-served behavior||Feed-back pro-vided||Feed-back date||Actions agreed to by employee||Actions agreed to by manager|
In today’s post, I provide additional columns that can be added to your employee performance log to further increase the usefulness and effectiveness of creating and managing such a log. Consider these the “advanced level” fields. So in addition to the fields above, here are the next set of recommended columns for your employee performance log:
Observed Behavior Change Date
The purpose of the performance feedback conversation is to make sure an employee does something different than before. This is the date of the moment you have the chance to observe if anything is different. If this field is blank, then you can assume that there has been no opportunity to observe the behavior change. If it a very long period of times (say, measured in months), then how important was that initial feedback? It obviously isn’t something that is day-to-day, so was it really that important? If it is something that is observable within about a week, then it is something that is part of the job.
Observed behavior change
Similar to “observed behavior” field, you need to check in at some point to see whether the behavior has changed or not. If this field is blank, then this gives you a hint to look for the change in behavior. Of course, use the same behavior-based language. If the employee has actually changed the behavior to match more closely the desired behavior, then the employee should get credit for this! This is the field to note this. If there is no change in behavior, then this should be noted as well.
Another benefit is that this is a great way to see your impact as a manager as well! If there is an observed behavior change for the better, and it is tied to a feedback conversation (with date noted), then indeed, you as a manager contributed to the improved performance of your team members and by extension the organization as a whole. Way to go!
Observed behavior change impact
Again, you can use this field to identify the impact of the improved (or worsened behavior). If you don’t notice a difference in impact, then maybe your feedback didn’t get at root of the problem. So maybe it isn’t the employee’s behavior that created whatever impact you have cited. However, if there is a positive change in impact now you can cite both the positive impact of your feedback conversation, and the positive impact of the employee changing behaviors. Examples of impact could be that the behavior-change reduced need for managerial follow up, reduced need for extra meetings for clarification, reduced need for re-work, fewer complaints from co-workers, or no project delays. It’s all here in the log. So both you and your employee should get credit for changing something for the better in your organization—and it’s all documented here.
Links to artifacts
Finally, a common practice that managers perform in the information worker world is to keep an email file on their employee. Email is great in that it creates an instant artifact and is objective about who sent it and what was said. So for example, if an employee gets a “good job” response from someone, the manager puts that email into the employee email file. This good behavior on the part of the manager, in that it at least attempts to track an employee’s performance. It is, however, incomplete, without the context and discussion with the manager. The log, at least, provides some visibility as to whether the manager has even discussed the event that created that artifact.
So for email, this field can include a note “email received from Jenny 8/26” (after you put it in the employee’s email file).
In addition to tracking email, this artifacts field also encourages you to link to files or other “artifacts” that the employee created or contributed to, so that you can see what it was. You may need to save the document to your personal drive at the relative point in time to see its state of the artifact at the time of the observed behavior (because the document can change over time). With the artifacts field, you at least get some visibility of the quality of work – as it existed – at the time of observed behavior, both pre- and post-. The artifact of the employee’s work is the most specific way of getting an objective view of the employee’s output. Similarly, if you have no artifacts, then it is up for debate about the state of the document.
OK, so here are some proposed columns for an “advanced” employee performance log. The manager who fastidiously tracks these for his or her employees will have a good view into the employee’s performance, the impact of the employee’s performance, and the manager’s efforts to improve the performance.
|Item num-ber||Date||Name||Title||Con- text||Ob-served be-havior||Preferredbehavior||Impact of ob-served be-havior||Feed-back pro-vided||Feed-back date||Actions agreed to by em-ployee||Actions agreed to by man-ager||Ob-served be-havior change date||Ob-served Be-havior change||Ob-served be-havior change impact||Artifact links|
Now, there are risks both to creating and not creating this log if it is not done well. I’ll discuss some risks in my next blog entry.
Have you ever tried to track an employee’s performance? How did you do it? Did you connect it to feedback conversations? How about improvements?