From the Archive: The DNA of HR Decisions: Why Documentation is Important

by Michael Haberman on October 4, 2017 · 1 comment

I presented a webinar yesterday on the importance of documentation. It reminded me of this post.

Recently in Georgia, a man was executed. There were many claims that he was innocent, the courts did not agree. My purpose here is not to discuss this, I make this statement as a prelude to my observation of an article written in the aftermath. On October 2, 2011, an article was written entitled When Memory Fails Witnesses. The story talks about situations where men were identified as criminals but were later found to be innocent through the use of DNA evidence. Incorrect eyewitness identification was the cause of wrongful convictions. Law professor Brandon Garrett of the University of Virginia said: “What they have found is that memory is extremely malleable and extremely fragile.”

Because of this modern science is now relied upon in today’s court cases. However, in business situations there is no physical DNA evidence on employee performance; but that does not mean that memories are any less faulty than in criminal cases. Perhaps they are even worse! Thus, the importance of documentation. It is the DNA of HR decisions. People are not going to go to prison for decisions made in the HR department (generally anyway), however, lives are altered, personal and company reputations may be harmed and money has to be paid if a company cannot appropriately defend itself.

An attorney once told me that one page of documentation is worth 10,000 words of testimony. Documentation is the “DNA” that may prove a company’s case. So make sure your supervisors and managers are providing the evidence needed in the form of proper documentation.

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