How to Document Employee Performance Issues

Updated July 23, 2023

There are various ways to track an employee's performance in the workplace. If issues arise, it's important for human resources to address them in a timely and efficient manner. Once all relevant data is gathered, it can then be addressed with the employee to show the areas of their improvement and assist them in setting and reaching goals for them to be successful.

In this article, we define what employee performance issues are, why it's crucial for you to document performance issues and how you can document them effectively.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

What is an employee performance issue?

An employee performance issue is when an employee does not meet specific requirements that a job entails, such as attendance, policy objectives and standards to uphold an organization's culture. Usually, performance issues are outlined by an employee's manager directly and documented by human resources afterward. However, human resources may take responsibility for informing an employee about a performance issue and documenting it.

Why it's important for you to document employee performance issues

It's critical for you to document issues pertaining to performance because it keeps a written record about an employee's tenure with the company, their relationship with their manager and their colleagues and their track record of compliance with policy noted in the employee handbook. Overall, documenting employee performance helps you instill fairness in the investigation process while presenting an objective viewpoint in testing employee behavior in the workplace. Managers should also keep a file of an employee to keep track of how they're doing on the job. This could be done on a weekly, monthly or annual basis.

How to document employee performance issues

Follow the steps below when documenting employee performance issues:

  1. Stick to the facts and underline expectations.

  2. Emphasize behavior.

  3. Align records of past performance.

  4. Describe proof of misconduct.

  5. Identify and present consequences.

  6. Meet in person and get a signature.

1. Stick to the facts and underline expectations

Meeting with an employee to discuss their performance issues gives you the chance to display all the facts related to the circumstances. Facts can be rendered to you by a manager or someone on the executive team depending on the severity of the performance issue. Either way, proceed in gathering metrics to plan how you'll explain the performance gap to the employee and how they can meet the expectations required by management.

Be sure to avoid subjective words like never or always in a written report even if they have no record of conducting a specific task. Instead, use numbers to exhibit a statistical analysis in your report. This way, the employee can provide evidence contrary to the report or they can make a target for themselves to increase a statistic that enhances their output. You want to ensure that you're the objective voice when it comes down to a one-on-one meeting with an employee about their performance.

2. Emphasize behavior

If you're writing a behavior-based report, then it's wise to generate a report that highlights behavior instead of an individual's character. A report should consist of a manager portraying the actions of an employee, which served as a catalyst for them to report it to you. Holding an employee accountable can assist you in providing advice that can help upgrade their behavior while holding themselves accountable in the workplace. Overall, the end goal should be centered on reaching a mutual understanding and creating a pathway for success.

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3. Align records of past performance

If their performance or behavior violated policies in the employee handbook before, describe how they were violated and why it motivated a manager to report it. Workplace conduct requirements are usually presented in an employee handbook, and noting what they were in violation of gives an employee an overview of why their performance may be labeled as misconduct or poor performance. Be sure to print and distribute a copy of the employee handbook and highlight in the employee handbook the requirement that the employee didn't meet.

If this is their first violation of the employee handbook or a scenario where they haven't been meeting a performance standard, then it may be easier for an employee to digest this information presented. Therefore, keep the previous step in mind when holding employees accountable for their actions in writing.

4. Describe proof of misconduct

Get information from the employee's direct manager and written emails from their colleagues to show proof of their actions. You want to have a robust report to give an employee a full understanding of how information about their performance was gathered in addition to the type of misconduct performed in the workplace.

5. Identify and present consequences

The action above helps you assign the proper disciplinary action for the employee. Also, it identifies why an employee is not working up to the company's standard or not correcting a preexisting issue. Overall, aim to set a deadline for when an employee needs to meet set expectations to allow them to perform adequately in their role.

6. Meet in person and obtain a signature

Meetings about performance and misconduct should always be in person. This gives you the chance to provide all necessary information gathered as a result of the investigation, and for the employee to process and analyze the information and ask appropriate questions.

After discussing all questions tied to the documentation of their performance, have the employee sign a document to conclude that they have read and understood the content of the documentation. Also, communicate to the employee that signing the document acknowledges that they had a conversation with the human resources department about their performance. It's not an agreement about all pieces of content gathered.

Employee performance issues template

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

Performance review commenced by: [Supervisor’s name and title]
Meeting date: [Date of supervisor and employee meeting]
Meeting location: [Location of supervisor and employee meeting]
Start time: [Meeting start time]
End time: [Meeting end time]
Meeting attendees: [Supervisor(s) and employee names and titles]

Meeting's purpose: [Brief statement of the issue or problem]

Discussion points:

  1. [Performance issue 1]

  2. [Performance issue 2]

  3. [Performance issue 3]

  4. [Performance issue 4]

  5. [Performance issue 5]

Action items: [One item for each discussion point]

  1. [Item 1]

  2. [Item 2]

  3. [Item 3]

  4. [Item 4]

  5. [Item 5]

Human resources representative:


[Name], [title]



[Name], [title]



[Name], [title]

Download Employee Performance Issue Document Template

To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Employee performance issues document example

Here is an example of how you can fill out such a document:

Performance review commenced by: Theresa Martin, human resources manager
Meeting date: Monday, Oct. 28, 2019
Meeting place: Trader's Sales and Marketing Corporate Headquarters, 11563 Regis Place, San Francisco, CA 94105
Start time: 3:05 p.m. PST
End time: 4:05 p.m. PST
Meeting attendees: Theresa Martin, human resources manager, and Davis Martin, sales representative

Meeting's purpose: Failure to meet sales targets for Q3

Discussion points:

  1. Employee has not met sales targets for Q3.

  2. Manager's comments about performance.

  3. Suggestions to help meet sales targets and improve completion of workplace tasks.

  4. Feedback on action items presented.

  5. Further questions or concerns to be addressed.

Action items:

  1. Meet with your manager directly to discuss further questions about our meeting.

  2. Increase the volume of sales calls to 50 per day and track them in the project management system.

  3. Generate a weekly report that shows your progress and meet with your manager to discuss the progress of your calls.

  4. Establish a buddy system with the sales coordinator, Justin Sams, to assist you in problems you encounter. Justin will be sending a report to management each week, along with your manager's report that will be reviewed by human resources.

  5. Every Friday, work with Justin on cleaning up the CRM software to help the sales team insert information into the database on sales prospects.

  6. Meet sales targets given to you by the end of the quarter.

HR signature: Theresa Martin, human resources manager

Manager's signature: Matthew Hairston, sales manager

Employee signature: Davis Martin, sales representative

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