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The most obvious use of this notebook will be to document issues that support progressive discipline but that’s only the beginning.
You bet it can; find out how:
HR has a primary interest in having supervisors do a better job at documenting performance and behavior issues because, in order for progressive discipline to stick, there needs to be evidence that a series of conversations and corrective actions have taken place. A notebook can serve as an invaluable tool for that purpose.
Supervisors who complain that they don’t get backed up by management when they write up employees should remember that without good documentation, HR has little ammunition to counter employee accusations or excuses. A supervisor who regularly documents observations is less likely to be accused of harassment or unfair targeting because the supervisor will demonstrate a fair and consistent approach to employee relations.
In the same way that a police officer carries a notebook to take down observations in order to complete an incident report, supervisors should do likewise. However, the notebook should be used to document all kinds of observations including positive ones. That way employees won’t see the notebook as a punishment log – they will see it more positively.
Picture yourself in a restaurant with five family members or friends. The waiter comes to your table and listens attentively as each person tells him their drink, appetizer, entrée and side dish order but the waiter doesn’t take any notes. Impressive? Most of us would admit to feeling a bit anxious that something was going to be missed. “Will he remember I wanted my dressing on the side? Or that I asked for no peppers on my entrée?”
Even a great server would ease the customer’s anxiety by writing down notes. In the same way a supervisor who takes notes will increase the confidence level in the employee that he is likely to follow up on the employee’s question, concern or suggestion.
Great supervisors know that their notebook is a great visual indicator that shows employees that the supervisor takes their input seriously and follows up on questions, issues and concerns. It helps counteract the dreaded “Leave it with me,” or “I’ll get back to you,” only to have the employee get frustrated when the supervisor completely forgets to close the loop and get the employee an answer to their question.
Shift change is another challenge for high volume operations and trying to remember to pass along key information is difficult without noting observations throughout the shift. Making ongoing notes about equipment, materials and quality issues would make it much easier to provide a better snapshot to the supervisor on the following shift.
Taking notes supports continuous improvement because ideas present themselves in real-time. Employee suggestions can be noted and passed along. The supervisor’s own thoughts and observations can be captured.
Some supervisors ask if a computer can be used in place of a notebook? The challenge is that unless the supervisor works in an office environment, he or she is likely to be (or should be) roaming the floor and the notebook is the most portable documentation device. Plus a computer won’t provide the employee with the sense that his or her concerns will be followed up with.
The use of a notebook can increase the effectiveness of your supervisors, improve employee satisfaction, and support disciplinary action. Developing the skill set of effective notebook use and the conversations that should accompany those observations will increase the confidence and competence level of your front line leaders.
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