Overcoming the Myth of the Paper Trail #1

Sections of this topic

    As mentioned in two previous posts, the paper trail seems to be a concept widely understood by individuals in multiple organizations. The concept is a reality for many and represents how the competing interests in organizations can work against the common goal of the company and its employees. Overcoming this competition of interests is required for the dissolution of the this mythical paper trail. If the paper trail continues to exist in the organization as tool for termination, then the conflict between managers, HR and employees will continue to take precedence over the organization’s goals.

    Overcoming the Myth

    Overcoming the myth of the paper trail can be very difficult for many organizations. HR departments often put great amounts of effort into developing performance management systems to include a myriad of forms and steps. Many companies even spend thousands of dollars training managers on the use of these forms and completing the steps. Despite these efforts, the paper trail still develops. The issue in many cases is not necessarily the failure to create great systems and useful forms; it is however, the failure to create a performance culture.

    The culture in the organization can’t usually be found in the rule book, policy statement, or SOP. It is something that you see in the behaviors of the people in the organization. Their norms and customs become the example, therefore setting the “real” rules of behavior. For example, the handbook may dictate a professional dress code. However, everyone knows that the CEO wears jeans every day. Eventually others begin to follow the example until jeans become the dress code despite what the handbook says.

    Creating this culture is not always easy. However, research continues to show a positive correlation to it and business success. Below is a list of the first steps to get you started. What others do you have to share as beginning stages? We will discuss this in the next two to three posts.


    Ensure the employee knows the expectations

    • Clearly define team roles
    • Discuss how goals and expectations relate to company mission
    • Review the job description and expectations with each new employee on their first day (provide a copy of the 30, 60, 90 day and annual reviews and explain what is required to meet and exceed expectations)
    • Meet at least weekly with new hires during their first 90 days and bi-weekly during the first six months
    • During performance meetings, refer back to the mission often

    Involve the Team in Setting Goals and Expectations

    • Work with your staff to set team and individual goals and objectives that will meet the mission of the company
    • Discuss results with your team. Share the stats. Let them know how the department contributes to the goals of the organization
    • Post the goals of the department and the department’s mission (have the team work together to create the mission)

    As always, your comments are encouraged!


    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.