Documentation is Communication
When I was an administrator at a school and I had concerns about a direct report’s performance, I looked for past notes and documentation regarding observations, conversations, and other feedback. I found nothing. This was a person that had many complaints from all different constituents in the school over many years and yet there was nothing in writing. This could mean that someone might not have received clear and timely feedback about their performance and at the very least if they did, there was no follow-up to clarify goals and expectations. This does not serve anyone well: the person struggling in the job, the supervisor, and ultimately if you are in a school, the students. Documentation is a form of feedback. It leads to clarity and direct communication. There are likely few surprises when you document in a timely and clear manner.
“In order to effectively coach employees, you need to have an ongoing dialogue that provides updates on progress, facilitates development, and keeps both parties on the same page.”
Documentation is communication. Effective documentation can…
- Clarify goals and reiterate what was discussed
- Create transparency
- Hold people accountable
- Get everyone on the same page
- Identify next steps
- State when the next connection point will happen
- Lead to deeper levels of understanding by the manager and a feeling of being valued by direct reports
- Build trust
Tips for documentation as a manager:
- Take notes in every meeting
- Send follow-up emails that are direct and clear
- Follow through on what you note in your emails whether they are action items or more meetings
- Set up structures so your direct report knows what to expect under your leadership. For example, people will know that they will receive a follow-up email after they meet with you as a regular protocol.
“Employees who feel valued and heard are far more likely to be engaged and productive.”
Documentation is communication. Thoughtful, clear, and direct communication builds trust and leads to growth.