How to Document Employee Performance and Behavior Issues -
employee performance template
12 min read
December 4, 2020

How to Document Employee Performance and Behavior Issues

How do you motivate employees who aren’t your top performers? What happens to those employees who consistently show poor performance? How do you deal with employee issues and performance problems without being accused of favoritism?

Every workplace has these types of problems and has dealt with its fair share of sub-par employee performance and behavior. It’s a common challenge for all employers, especially because employees have different attitudes, and some may even believe your management style is the cause for wrongful dismissal.

However, HR managers and supervisors have learned over the years that the best way to deal with employee problems is to document everything.

While disciplining employees is one thing no manager enjoys doing, there are times when you are pushed to the wall, and your efforts to motivate and encourage them (or the team) aren’t fully utilized because some members of your staff seem to have some unresolved behavior or performance problems.

If you have encountered troubles with your employees, whether due to underperformance or disruptive behavior, then this article is the perfect solution for you.

We’ll take you through everything you need to know about how to document employee issues. We’ll also share a documenting employee behavior template to simplify the process and to resolve your employee problems.

To ensure that you get the documentation right, we’ll start from the very basics of employee performance problems and behavior issues. You don’t want to make a wrong accusation or put yourself in a precarious position by handling the employee troubles carelessly.

This template is a lot like the documenting employee behavior template, with the difference between the two being the fact that one is for documenting employees' performance, and the other documenting employee behavior template is for documenting employee behavior.

What Are Employee Performance and Employee Behavior Issues?

The levels of employee productivity, morale, and customer service/engagement are at their highest whenever employees are able to work together as a team effectively while practicing the basic tenets of respect for each other. Unfortunately, the opposite is true when you have some employees displaying disruptive and inappropriate behavior.

Generally, problematic employee behavior represents any employee behavior that isn’t consistent with being professional and collegial. Such behavior is known to cause significant negative consequences to organizations and their people, with the unfortunate bit being an increase in the organization’s potential legal liabilities.

Some of the most common problem employee behavior problems that companies suffer with include:

Gossiping – Some gossip here and there might be harmless, and gossip is often seen to have connotations. But by virtue of its definition, gossiping represents an individual’s action that results in the habitual revelation of personal/sensational information about others, whether that information is factual or not.

Even spreading rumors about an employee is hurtful and harmful, and because of the emotional impact of gossip on the person being gossiped, it often affects that employee’s performance. Which is why gossiping is an employee issue you might want to get a hold of.

General display of insolence or lack of civility – You have an employee behavior problem if an employee engages rudely with disrespectful words or behavior, including physical intimidation. This could be in the form of degrading or insulting statements.

Bullying – Bullying has no place in the workplace, but there are many employees around the corporate world who are workplace bullies. Bullying can easily result in social isolation, manipulation, or condescending communications, and this often is a huge issue that hurts the morale and productivity of the person getting bullied. With bullying being all about having/holding power over another person, you have to work on stopping it fast.

Insubordination – You also know that you have an employee behavior issue if an employee is insubordinate, always undermining the authority of the supervisor and authority in general.

These are just some of the common employee behavior issues that you may have to deal with, but they aren’t the only employee issues. As much as these are behavioral problems, they affect employee performance indirectly. However, there are also issues that affect an employee’s performance directly.

Employees' behavior or performance problems/issues arise when an employee fails to meet specific job requirements like attendance and policy objectives and when they fail to uphold the organization’s culture.

The employee performance problems or issues include tardiness and absenteeism, misuse of sick leave, or preventable work accidents. It also includes slow responses to work projects/requests, untimely completion of tasks, and poor scheduling, prioritization, or timing.

These are quantitative employee troubles, but there are also quality issues that include inappropriate work methods, errors, inaccuracies, client dissatisfaction, and failure to meet set expectations.

In the HR and management world, employee behavior and employee performance problems/issues are a significant issue, and being able to target and handle these issues professionally is crucial.

Why Is It Important for You to Document Employee Performance Issues?

Documentation of employee behavior and performance problems is critical because it gives you a written record of the employee’s tenure in the company, tracks their relationship with their manager along with colleagues.

Documenting employee performance also gives you proof of the employee’s track record regarding their compliance with policies specified in the employee handbook.

Documenting employees' performance or behavior is also important because it allows you to instill fairness throughout the investigation process while giving you a more objective viewpoint for testing different employee behavior at the workplace.

Employee documentation of performance or behavior issues will provide the evidence that shows the employee’s problem behavior, for example, issues with punctuality will be shown with proof of clock-in times.

The employee documentation gives HR and management a detailed history of an employee’s performance and improvement or the lack of change or deterioration in conduct over time. The employee template for performance or behavior issues is chronological, and it gives precise (and time-stamped) descriptions of both the employee’s and the manager’s actions, as well as the events that occurred.

The template of performance for employee behavior issues saves the company liability from legal action in case of dismissal because it provides all the necessary evidence needed to support the management’s decision to take what may seem like an unfavorable action towards the employee, whether the action is termination or discipline.

You should also document employee performance problems to give proof that an employee is undeserving of a promotion or a salary increase. The contrary is also true, where the employee performance records guide in telling the management who is more deserving of the promotion, salary increase, and in case of employee performance troubles, salary cuts, or no raise.

To streamline this process, consider using a template for your organization to document employee performance.

How to Document Employee Problems – Documenting Employee Performance and Documenting Employee Behavior

What is the best way to document employee problems? Is there a guide on how to document employee issues accurately to avoid legal issues and to resolve the employee problems at hand?

This article not only shares tips on how to document employee problems correctly; it also shares a simple how-to template to employee issues. The documenting employee behavior template ensures you get a good handle of existing employee problems. It is also an essential part of employee performance tracking.

  • Be accurate

You only need to document what is known to be true and factual. The performance or behavior documentation should be direct and clear, with references to stated expectations.

For accuracy and bulletproof documentation, use the employee template to describe the company’s expectations. State clearly what the employee’s job description is or what the company policies require of the employee. This means that instead of simply telling an employee that they must show up on time, be more specific by going the official written way. For example - “your job begins at 8 am, you should be at your desk at that time ready to answer client calls.”

Describe the employee behavior or performance issue that must change. The best way to document any employee problems is to describe the conduct under scrutiny, rather than the individual. While doing that, avoid words that imply broad judgments, for example, words like “never” or “always” because such words would be disputed very easily by the employee’s attorney if it gets to that point.

Although these filler words make it easy to make a point, they could get you in trouble. So, as mentioned above, stick to specific dates and times.

  • Stick to the facts

Be concise in your description of the employee’s actions and what they said. You need to support every one of your statements with a perfect, accurate example of events. It would, therefore, be helpful to incorporate dates and times to all scenarios that need to be quoted. Not sure how to document employee issues? Well, stick to the facts and get a how-to document employee issues template for a streamlined process.

If you are worried about missing out on some of the important components of the employee problem documentation, how to document employee issues templates will help you stick to the facts and also to keep it short.

  • Identify a witness

Not all employees will be willing to be called in as witnesses, but it is important to identify a witness – it doesn’t have to be hard on other employees, though. A witness can be someone who interacts with the employee often or any employee who could have seen the employee behavior in question.

  • Incorporate the employee’s explanation

If, upon questioning, the employee gave a reason or an excuse for their performance problems or behavior issues, have a record of their explanation. In the case of performance issues, the explanation given could be why set expectations are not met.

Note that by having such two-way conversations, it shows the attempts made by the manager to not only get hold of the employee problem before it got out of hand, but it also shows the manager’s fairness in an attempt to learn more and help out that individual. As a manager, you need to keep in mind that rushing to judgment could backfire on you.

  • Come up with a detailed action plan.

No manager wants to see their employee out of the door a few months in, largely because employee retention is important, and the employee turnover rate is quite costly. So, having held a discussion with the employee, you should come up with a detailed written on how to improve their performance. Think of this as a coaching plan to help the employee do better and resolve employee performance troubles. Just make sure that your plan is realistic and focused on the main trouble areas.

A documenting employee behavior template is an important part of the plan, and it’s the best way for you if you are not very sure about how to document employee issues.

  • Set up deadline for correcting employee behavior or performance problems in the employee document

You may be tempted to address the employees' behavior with the casual ‘we expect things to turn around immediately,’ but this can be misconstrued, and it means different things to different employees. As part of documenting employees' performance or documenting employees' behavior, you must follow up on the discussion of the employee problem with a specific deadline, as well as a subtle warning. The employee document with the specifics of their performance and behavior should have a written record of what was discussed and agreed upon.

You soon learn in the management profession that some circumstances leading to common employee problems are beyond the employee’s control, and you can come up with a solution from that meeting. In other cases, a specific employee’s performance problems may turn out to be a training issue or problems with other employees.

  • Describe consequences for issues with employees’ behavior or performance

When documenting employee performance or behavior it should be based on facts. Since your company policy already has an outline of what’s expected of employees and the course of action taken in case of an employee issue, you will only need to describe the consequences they face for poor behavior or performance troubles.

Though you don’t want to deal with an employee issue by threatening them too early in the coaching sessions, it’s something that you will have to bring up if the first attempts fail, and the employee issue isn’t resolved. Go into the details when documenting employee performance or any other employee problems and mention to them that they are looking at potential termination (on specific dates) in case of unchanged behavior in extreme cases.

  • Avoid the use of vague phrases.

You cannot win a case detailing employee problems, especially in the presence of a lawyer. When documenting employees' performance and employee trouble cases, documentation is centered around the use of vague phrases. For example, a bad attitude is an employee issue, but you cannot use such problems as grounds for termination—same case with an issue where an employee does not fit into the company culture.

You need to be extra cautious with the words you use in the employee document, especially when documenting employee behavior and employee problems, as well as widespread employees' behavior that need correcting. Thanks to the documenting employee behavior template, the process is made easy. You could also opt to use a how to document employee issues template to cover performance matters, employee problems and employee's behavior.

That being said, here are some important pointers that you should consider when documenting employee behavior or documenting employee performance.

  • Get the employee’s feedback during counseling or coaching. Use the how-to document employee issues template to document the employee’s feedback.
  • Send confirmation emails addressing the employees' behavior to document conversations and avoid misunderstandings.
  • Note that you are not required by law to ask employees to sign a written performance issues warning.
  • Use a documenting employee behavior template to avoid conflict in the future and for data accuracy. We’ve shared a ‘how to document employee issues template’ here to guide in performance documentation and for ease of handling performance troubles and employee issues.

Template for documenting employee behavior and employee performance

If you have never been involved in documenting employee behavior in the past, you will need a documenting employee behavior template. Below, we share a simple how-to document employee issues template.

Employee Performance Issue (Employee Behavior Problems) Document Template

Here is a template to help you document employee performance issues:

  • Employee Performance Review commenced by:
  • Meeting date:
  • Meeting place:
  • Start time:
  • End time:
  • Meeting attendees:
  • Meeting's purpose:
  • Discussion points:
  • Action items:
  • Human resources signature:
  • Manager's signature:
  • Employee signature:

There you have it, a simple how-to document employee issues template to guide you through the employee document process for dealing with performance behavior and documenting employee behavior.

Note that this how-to document employee issues template only gives you a skeleton to work with, but you can populate it with any other important information and the relevant details to make the how-to document employee issues template more fitting to your company. Like the attendance policy, the how-to document employee issues template helps in creating a comprehensive guide for maintenance of order in the company, for increased productivity, and for high profitability levels.


If you have been working on improving structures and relationships in the workplace, you need a template for documenting performance problems and overall employee problems, and the how-to document employee issues template above will give you a footing and a good place to start the entire process.

Note that although documenting employee behavior templates can be straightforward, the effectiveness of the document depends on the language used and how you create it.


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