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Letting someone go for poor performance. How should I document?

How To Document Employee PerformanceWe are about to let an employee go for plain old poor performance. How should we document this and do we need to do anything in particular on their way out? Are there docs we need them to sign? etc? We are considering giving them health benefits for an extra month so I suppose a severance agreement is in order?


Lisa McCormack
Title: VP, Client Services
(VP, Client Services, ) |

This is not an easy question to answer without knowing more about your situation. I would suggest that you consult legal counsel before proceeding. Your counsel will also prepare a separation agreement with a general release of claims in consideration of any compensation or benefits you plan to offer to this employee. Depending on what state you are located in, there are a number of items in addition to the separation agreement that should be given to the terminating employee - most importantly their final paycheck through their last day of work.

Sarah Jackson
Title: Associate Editor
Company: Proformative
(Associate Editor, Proformative) |


In addition to the great answers on this page, here are even more discussions on this topic.

Good luck!

Best.... Sarah

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

In answer to the first part of your question, the documentation. If there are employee handbooks, job requirements, etc that bolster your argument make sure that all employees have received them. Have them sign for them or send them through the corporate e-mail system.

Second is you would have to have counseled that individual several times, each time documenting what the norm is, what their performance was and the remediation that was agreed to. Have the employee sign the form.

After you have laid your groundwork and the employees performance has not improved based on objective criteria, you have documented your case.

As Lisa mentioned, make sure your in compliance with your State and Local Laws. Use a qualified Employment Attorney or HR Consultant.

Topic Expert
Vernon Reizman
Title: CFO
Company: RCM Industries, Inc.
(CFO, RCM Industries, Inc.) |

Three steps, first verbal discipline or feedback on performance, second written feedback and thrid final written probation with specific steps to improve upon and time line to meet. Let the employee break the agreement/requirements so that it is his or her ultimate decision to keep the job or not. Be sure to treat all equally.

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Director of Global Accounting
Company: Agrinos, Inc.
(Director of Global Accounting, Agrinos, Inc.) |

Echoing this: Process. Document the process and follow the process. If you don't have it documented, do it now.
-In any meeting where a final determination of status (eg "you're fired") is communicated, be sure that there are two persons on the company side of the table, preferably the direct manager and a representative of the HR function.
-Any grant beyond the legal/contract minimum should be associated with a "Release of Claims" agreement.
-I would be hesitant about offering anything other than cash in the separation. What if your insurer makes it problematic to provide benefits to the terminated employee? Are you setting the groundwork for having to provide benefits to all employees who are terminated? Option acceleration and the like are also problematic. Assume that anything you grant may need to become repeatable. Cash (to cover cobra, etc) is the easiest and clearest.
-When the determination is made, document it and get that last paycheck out on time, plus vacation and any other accruals. If the release of claims is outstanding for months on end, that is fine. Don't hold up the process for that.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

I would concur with the approaches above yet add to do an assessment of the root cause for the poor performance (lack of knowledge skills abilities; is the individual a right fit for the company not the current job etc.)


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