• Julie Sumner

What, When, How:

A Three-Part Series on the Basics of Documentation

The question I am probably asked most often is: “How do we know what to document, when to document it, and how to document it?” Well, I’m going to break it down for you over the next three articles.

So, let’s start with what to document. . . .

Everything. I’m kidding (sort of). It certainly seems like that is the answer nowadays though, doesn’t it? And, unfortunately, in our litigious society, it’s not far from the truth. But documenting everything is neither practical nor possible. So, focus on these:

  • Anytime an employee misses 3 or more days of work (and notify HR because FMLA may come into play);

  • Anytime you talk to an employee about his or her performance (yes, even “verbal” coachings or warnings need to be documented);

  • Anytime someone is injured;

  • Anytime equipment malfunctions, is defective, damaged, or needs to be repaired;

  • Anytime someone violates a company policy, procedure, or work rule;

  • Anytime you speak to an employee about his or her behavior (behavior is a performance issue! But that’s a blog for another day . . . );

  • Anytime something unexpected happens that affects the job or your employees (weather delays, delivery delays, etc.);

  • Anytime a customer, vendor, owner, or contractor brings up an issue (document not only when the issue was brought to your attention, but also how and when it was resolved);

  • Verification of compliance with regulations (OSHA, DOT, etc.) and/or company/customer policies and procedures (pre-shift meetings, toolbox talks, equipment inspections, etc.);

  • When your employees go above and beyond (some would argue this is not as important, but people need to feel appreciated and appreciate when their efforts are recognized).

Your company may have other items it wants you to document, but these are some good starting points!

Stay tuned for the next article in this blog series: When to Document.

Talk soon,


a.k.a. Diva of Documentation


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