An example of tracking positive performance and praise of an employee in an employee performance log

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A great manager needs to know the good stuff that is happening on the team.  What you track shouldn’t be only areas you’d like to correct.  In fact, it should be mostly positive!  People come to work and try to get good things done all the time.  If the manager doesn’t know what those things are, then the manager is missing lots of opportunities to provide thanks and praise.  Also, the manager is going to quickly get a reputation for ignoring good work.

I advocate for creating an employee performance log to track employee behaviors. In previous articles, I provide a beginner version, an intermediate version, and an advanced version.  While such a log can and should be used for tracking corrective feedback and potential issues with an employee (an example is provided here), a great manager should exert a great amount of energy identifying and understanding the great behaviors that are observed on the job, and the impact the performance of the team.

So today I provide an example of how this can be done on the employee performance log – a positive example!

Here’s the scenario:

Alex’s role is to create reports for an internal business partner.  Alex noticed that the same report is highly manual in its development, and started tracking the amount of time it takes to develop the report.  She then used this information to explain how there was a chance to create efficiencies in developing the report, and as a result of this initiative, a new project was created improve how the data was consolidated and obtained.

The task: To document to the intermediate level so that you can give performance-based praise using behavior-based language, and to encourage the behavior to continue.

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: Alex L.

Title: Report Developer

Context: PRP report development always seemed like a slow process (but unknown how slow), and any time there was a request from our business customers, caused stress on the team due to increased workload that would delay other projects.

Observed behavior: Alex identified this report as problematic, and started tracking the time to develop the report in a log.  She then presented this data to the Sr. Report developers to identify three areas where data is organized poorly and difficult to consolidate.  She then provided recommendations to me and other members of the team to make these changes.

Impact of observed behavior: Alex’s efforts initiated a project to consolidate data sources and organization on not just the report she was working on, but other similar reports as well.  On the reports she tracked time on (PRP), she reduced the time to produce the report from 5 hours to 20 minutes.  There is a likelihood of other reports being more efficient, allowing our team to provide more higher-level analysis to better meet the needs of our business customers.

Feedback provided: I talked to Alex to recount the steps she took, and the efficiencies and opportunities that this work has brought to the team.  I thanked her for demonstrating initiative and working though the process to improve how the team operates. I thanked her for her great work on this effort.


Alright!  Alex has done a great job and reflects some great work, and now you know what it was that was a great job!  You have it documented.  This is based on actual behaviors, it has some metrics that go along with it, and most importantly, you have shared your thoughts on the great work directly with Alex.  This acknowledgement of great work is a simple, necessary and affordable step in a manager’s took-kit to keep employees performing at a high level.

The praise should still be behavior-based and strive to be specific and immediate.  It needs to be focused on what the employee did and the results of those actions, instead of generalizations (“Alex always comes through!”) or value judgments (“Alex is super-smart”).   Instead, keep documenting this good work, and you’ll quickly have a great view into what the person does that makes them good at what they do.

So there’s an example of filling out the performance log on your employee.  The better your log, the more artistic your praise!

Let me know what you think!  How do you track great work on your employees?  What do you document?

Related articles:

Examples of when to offer thanks and when to offer praise

“Thanks for your Hard Work” vs. “Thanks for your Good Work”

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?

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

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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