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Track Performance Every Step of the Way

Track Performance Every Step of the Way

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Most managers only keep a record of things like hours worked, self-presentation, and bottom-line numbers that appear in regular reports. Otherwise, most managers rarely document employee performance unless they are required to do so. This leaves no written track record other than those bottom-line reports that tell so little about the day-to-day actions of each employee.

Just imagine a doctor or nurse administering medicine to a patient in the hospital without making a notation in the patient's chart, a banker cashing a check without charging it against the right account in the bank system, or an insurance adjuster who pays claims but doesn't record them. All of these suggestions seem absurd. Yet managers interact with employees routinely (giving instructions, evaluating performance) without ever thinking to document those interactions.

If you want to be the manager who is "all over the details," you need a tracking system: You need to be able to reference an ongoing written record of exactly what expectations, goals, deadlines, and requirements were spelled out. And exactly how each employee's concrete actions match up with those clear expectations.

Knowledge is power: The more you keep track, the easier it will be to keep track. The greater your reputation for being all over the details, the more people will be likely to share information with you and answer your questions fully and honestly. They also will be more attentive to the details of their work if they have confidence that you will be reviewing the details of their work.

When you keep close track of each employee's individual performance you make it clear to each employee that she matters and her work matters. That's also the only way to put yourself in a position to make good decisions and help employees succeed. Keeping track in writing also creates psychological and material accountability. If you need to impose negative consequences or hand out special rewards, you'll have a written record to support your case.

Monitor, measure, and document performance — good, bad, and average — with every employee, every step of the way.