Performance Management Documentation

A business owner from California contacted me the other day to discuss a disciplinary matter regarding one of his non-exempt field employees who refused to complete a task. The owner wanted some direction about how to document this incident properly to prevent potential ambiguity and legal complications in the future.

I asked the owner what type of documentation he thought would be appropriate for this event. He replied that he would simply write “Employee Name refused to put yard waste in a trash can” on the documentation form and file it in the employee’s personnel folder. While I was pleased that the owner was actually going to document the event, I informed him that his version of the documentation must be a little more thorough to show the employee (as well potential lawyers and a judge) the exact nature, result, and contingency of the event. In light of that context, I proposed the following documentation be included as part of the feedback process.

“On Wednesday, September 25, 2019, “employee name” refused to clean up some debris at a job site as directed by his Foreman and immediately went to the work truck for the remainder of his work shift. Failure to perform that reasonable job-related assignment satisfies the definition of insubordination (i.e., “refusal to obey some order which a superior officer is entitled to give and is entitled to have obeyed”). Willingly disobeying a lawful order unambiguously violates the company’s job performance expectations, with direct impact on company results (e.g., inefficient labor utilization, poor job quality, possible job loss which reduces company revenue, and damaged team morale). Based upon that violation, “employee name” must demonstrate immediate, significant, and sustained performance improvement. Failure to meet any of these stated criteria in the future may result in additional corrective action up to and including immediate termination.”

If you have any questions regarding the above-mentioned content or any other human resources topic, simply call me at (760) 685-3800.


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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 34 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.