The Paper Trail

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    A common misconception with employees and managers is that of the “paper trail.” It is believed that in order to make a termination decision, a manager must create this “paper trail” of documentations until they have enough evidence to satisfy the Human Resource (HR) Department. Unfortunately, this very notion typically brings great frustration to everyone involved including the employee. However, behaviors of both managers and HR professionals can continue to reinforce the thought process that leads to this fallacy. For example, let’s look at the following fictitious dialogue.

    Manager – Hey HR person, I need to speak to you about an employee issue. I think it is time to let Bob go.

    HR Manager- Okay Manager, what is the issue?

    Manager-Well, Bob just can’t seem to meet the department goals.

    HR Manager- What type of documentation do you have?

    Manager-I’ve talked to him a hundred times and no matter what I try, it doesn’t help. Bob just can’t grasp the concept. He’s bringing down the whole team’s numbers, and now I am getting in trouble.

    HR Manager-Ok. What type of documentation do you have?

    Manager-I haven’t written up anything yet.

    After this dialogue the HR manager thinks, “How many times do I have to tell them ….”

    The manager thinks, “HR always gets in the way of me doing my job. They just don’t understand…”

    And the cycle continues…

    The cycle is able to continue in many organizations because there has been a failure to create a performance culture where there is a constant flow of feedback to employees at every level on performance.

    What ideas do you have to create this culture? What has worked in your organizations? I look forward to hearing your thoughts as we continue to explore this topic in future posts.


    For more resources, See the Human Resources library.

    Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is currently employed as the Human Resource Manager at EmployeeScreenIQ, a global leader in pre-employment background screening.