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Productivity / Performance

Ready to fire worker with poor attitude? Document examples before you deliver pink slip


If a supervisor believes an employee has such a negative attitude that it warrants firing, do your HR duty! Immediately ask for documentation of the problem. It can’t wait until after the termination occurs. After-the-fact, subjective assessments may not survive a court challenge.

Ensure FMLA leave doesn’t affect evaluations


When employees lose their jobs, they often look for a reason to sue. One common tactic is to argue that a layoff was used as an excuse to get rid of “unproductive” employees, especially those who take advantage of their right to FMLA leave. That’s why HR must develop a performance-appraisal system that documents that having taken FMLA leave wasn’t a factor when you evaluated employees’ work.

Different pay for men and women? Prepare to explain ‘other than sex’ factors

The federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) is supposed to ensure that men and women doing the same job aren’t paid differently based on their sex. But employees can’t win EPA lawsuits simply by comparing their rates of pay and job titles. Lots of factors unrelated to gender may in­­fluence pay.

Carefully track angry employee’s complaints

Do you have one of those em­­ployees who are never happy and always seem to find something to complain about? It may be tempting to ignore the constant complaining or chalk it all up to personality conflicts, but that would probably be a mistake. Carefully document the tension and your response.

Get ahead by drafting your own ‘career annual report’


What have you learned and accomplished in the past five years? If you can’t answer that question, you’ll have a tougher time planning your career development … and maybe making that next great career move. Use this template to create an annual report that can help collect your thoughts each year.

Log problems, improvement efforts before terminating


Occasionally, you’ll run across an employee who has a hard time performing up to expectations and won’t accept suggestions to improve. If he belongs to a protected class, you may worry about a lawsuit if you terminate him. That shouldn’t be a problem if you take the time to document problems before termination.

Beware impromptu evaluations to decide RIFs


If you must cut staff, you naturally want to terminate the least productive workers and keep the most productive ones. You could make the decision on the basis of past performance evaluations. But what if there aren’t any?

New hire running into trouble right away? Document problems early and often


Once in a while, the honeymoon is barely over before a new em­­ployee starts to struggle. Since every job has a learning curve, you may hesitate to terminate right away. But you can’t ignore the problems, either.

Court: Don’t expect access to past job records

When a former employee sues, alleging she was terminated because of sex discrimination, the employer often argues that the real reason was poor performance. Don’t expect the court to let you go on a fishing expedition into the employee’s past. As this recent case shows, courts think past performance is no indication of future results.

Document poor attitude, just in case of lawsuit

Here’s a tip for handling a difficult and argumentative employee. If she tells her supervisors she doesn’t like her job, wants to avoid some tasks and otherwise doesn’t seem interested in progressing, note her lousy attitude.