An example of how to use a log to track performance of an employee

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In previous entries of this blog, I advocate for managers to use a log to track performance incidents of notes.  I provide a beginner version, an intermediate version, and an advanced version.  This is a log that can be kept in a simple spreadsheet, and has many benefits to help you become a better manager – namely – you can remember what was going on with various people on your team!  Other benefits and a discussion of the potential drawbacks and pitfalls are found here.

In today’s post, I provide an example for how to use the performance log.  First, I don’t advocate using the log for everything that goes on with each of your employees.  This is too much work and likely will create a lot of noise for what would have been a useful tool.  Instead, I advocate to use it only for performance issues that you want to track and have an impact if the behavior changes. The focus in this article is on negative behaviors that need to be corrected, but a performance log should also be used for positive behaviors that need to be reinforced.

Here’s the scenario:

Trevor has been observed sleeping during meetings.  In some instances, meeting participants wake him up, and in other incidents they just started throwing office supplies at his head.  This hasn’t happened all the time, but he has been observed nodding off in other situations, and his previous boss from a year ago has mentioned it to you, in a joking manner.   People have told you that he has said that he’s stayed out too late a few times lately.

The task: To document to the intermediate level what’s so that you can give performance-based feedback using behavior-based language, and hopefully change the behavior to include not falling asleep, and even begin contributing to the meetings.

Here’s how the log looks blank at the intermediate level:

Item num-ber Date Name Title Con-text Ob-served be-havior Impact of ob-served be-havior Feed-back pro-vided Feed-back date Actions agreed to by employee Actions agreed to by manager

In a spreadsheet, you can keep the categories in the columns, and make it as wide as possible.  Below, I’ll fill it out in word-processor format (which is an option, in case you don’t like using spreadsheets).


Item #: 1

Date: March 14

Name: Trevor D.

Title: Business Analyst

Context: Meeting covering the latest market research results and the impact to the organization’s strategy

Observed behavior: I was told by two meeting participants that Trevor was observed falling asleep.  His eyes were shut throughout most of the first part of meeting, and he was observed nodding off.  A meeting attendee nudged Trevor and he was observed as awake throughout the rest of the meeting. Trevor did not provide input in the meeting.

Impact of observed behavior: Derailed meeting. The meeting stopped as people looked at Trevor while deciding what to do.    Eroded confidence in Trevor’s and team’s ability to contribute:  Trevor was representing our team in the meeting, and the representation was not effective, as it expressed we were not listening to the meeting content, nor would we be able to act.  Possible no invitation to future meetings.

Feedback provided: The nudging by a meeting participant provided immediate feedback.


OK, as a manager, you have just filled this out in the log.  Now you have the option of directly addressing this with Trevor, or treating it as a one-time deal and just having this note on-the-ready.  Since it is a fairly clear-cut behavior issue, and one that is pretty embarrassing, I would advocate talking to Trevor at the earliest opportunity, and making it clear that you are aware of this performance issue and it should be changed.

If not, well, let’s enter another log entry when it happens again (now you better do something about it!):


Item #: 2

Date: March 31

Name: Trevor D.

Title: Business Analyst

Context: Staff meeting covering existing budget spend year to date, and determining which areas to cut

Observed behavior: Trevor’s eyes appeared to be closed for extended periods of time throughout the meeting.  I did not observe any nodding-off, but at one point I asked Trevor to weigh in, and he was slow to react.  It appeared that he may have been asleep.  Trevor did not offer any input, responding to my request for input with “I agree with the direction.”

Impact of observed behavior: Distraction and delay to the meeting; Having to repeat things for Trevor; Input from Trevor not substantial or contributing; Calls into question the quality and nature of the meeting, reducing teamwork and morale.

Feedback provided: I told him that I was aware of these incidents, and told him that eyes closed or sleeping during a meeting was not acceptable, and needed to change.  Additionally, we need Trevor to be more participative in meetings he is in, rather than just be present.

Feedback date: April 1

Actions agreed to by employee: Trevor agreed that he has had trouble staying awake after staying up all night playing video games.  He said that he would not fall asleep again in meetings.  He also agreed to be more participative in meetings and provide input.

Actions agreed to by manager: I will continue to monitor and get feedback as to whether Trevor is awake and participative in meetings.  If the nodding-off behavior continues, I will speak with Trevor again.


OK – there you have it.  That didn’t take too long.  At least you are now much more on top of the situation, rather than having to try to remember what happened during incident number 1.  You also have a pattern, and you have Trevor’s response documented.  This could come in handy in case Trevor later says that you never talked to him, or has some other account of what happened.  Your documentation is probably at least as good as anyone else’s on the subject – as long as you try to keep it as behavior-based as possible.

So there’s an example of filling out the performance log on your employee.  The better your log, the more artistic your performance feedback!  Also the less likely you’ll conduct a toxic annual performance review.

Let me know what you think!  How do you track performance issues?  What do you document?  What does your organization expect you do as a manager in situations like this?

Related Articles:

Helpful tip for managers: Keep a performance log

Important fields that an employee performance log should contain – Beginner Level

Important fields that an employee performance log should contain – Intermediate Level

Important fields that an employee performance log should contain – Advanced Level

Keeping a performance log – why not?

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

How to have a feedback conversation with an employee when the situation is complex

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

Providing corrective feedback: Trend toward tendencies instead of absolutes

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

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 .


3 Responses to “An example of how to use a log to track performance of an employee”
  1. Janelle Watson says:

    Thanks! Not only for a very informative article but I love that you provided logs and examples of how to use them. I will definitely be bookmarking this one for the future. This will be a very useful tool!

  2. Thanks, Janelle! I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog!


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