The FRISK Documentation Workshop

The F R I S K Documentation

Workshop Materials

The FRISK documentation model was developed in 1994 by Steven J. Anderson to assist public school district clientele in proper and effective documentation of employees. Since then, it has been tailored for various other types of employers. Most recently, it was adapted for private industry.

FRISK is an acronym standing for:






The FRISK documentation model is designed for managers as a practical and straightforward method for documenting unsatisfactory employee performance.

The primary objectives of FRISK are to:

  • Effect positive change through clear communication;
  • Identify the common elements necessary for legally sufficient documentation;
  • Simplify the drafting of documentation by establishing a framework.

The MAIN Purpose of the FRISK documentation model is to improve employee
performance through direct, honest and constructive communication. Unfortunately, since the employee cannot always improve, this Model also provides the manager with the necessary elements for legally sufficient documentation. Legally sufficient documentation of employee performance deficiencies is the employer’s primary source of evidence to support management’s position in any subsequent challenge.

This workshop is a condensed version of a more comprehensive half-day seminar for managerial employees. We hope that you find this exercise as valuable as the literally thousands of managers who have attended similar workshops in the past.



In stating facts evidencing an employee’s deficient performance, the evaluator should: (1) separately pinpoint each deficient performance area; (2) describe the conduct in complete and explicit terms using plain language and specific factual details; and (3) carefully avoid making factual errors (e.g. incorrect dates or document references).

  • The statement of the facts should be a self-contained record of the employee’s conduct and should clearly identify the problem.
  • Examples and samples of the employee’s work should be used to supplement general or conclusory statements about “poor performance.”


What’s wrong with this part of a memo?

Dear Bob:

I was upset by your conduct last week. Your attitude indicates a lack

Concern and attentiveness for safety and was insubordinate. If you have any problems, you should feel free to discuss them with me. If things don’t improve, I may have to recommend you for dismissal.

What’s wrong here?

Dear Mary:

You still did not do what you are supposed to do with your client contacts, which we have talked about in the past. Sue told me you were aware of my prior memo, which addressed this issue.

What’s right with this part of a memo?

Dear Bob:

On Friday, March 10, 1999, I attempted to inspect your truck prior to your morning run. You requested that I reschedule the inspection and I explained that the inspection had to be completed before your first run. You then said: “Get off my truck right now or I’ll kick you off.”

What’s right here?

Dear Mary:

On February 7, 1999, I directed you in a conference and by memo to have your calendar of clients on my desk each Friday by 4:00 p.m.

for the following week. On Friday, February 17, you failed to turn in

your calendar as per my directive.

On Monday February 20, you turned in your calendar, as attached,

which are not in compliance with my directive. This does not account for your whereabouts during your entire duty day.

How would you add specificity to the following general or conclusory statements?

  1. Your cash register receipts, on March 4 1999, were incomplete.

2. Your comments to Linda, on February 20, 1999, were discourteous.

  1. In May, you failed to follow directions in making your presentation.



In stating the rule, the evaluator is describing what should have happened. In other words, what was the proper conduct the employee should have followed. Standards for proper conduct may be found in company policies, collective bargaining contract provisions, job descriptions, employee handbook provisions, prior directives or instructions, statutory provisions, state, county or federal mandates, and recognized professional standards, as well as basic accepted rules of conduct.

  • To justify disciplinary action, the employee should first be aware of the rule or standard expected to be followed in order to be accountable for any subsequent recurring violations.

    • Prior violations of the same rules should be noted in the disciplinary document in order to best document patterns of similar deficient conduct. This approach underscores the evaluator’s awareness of the problem and helps justify harsher corrective action under progressive discipline.


    What standard(s) of proper performance could be used for the following conduct?

    1 Hap Liss told his co-worker and his supervisor that he would not help in completing the fire sprinkler repair work (even though the new law required proper installation by the next day) because the job was too messy and he was tired.

  1. Ima Nagood, the HR clerk misspelled “welcome,” “human resources,” and the company name on the main employee bulletin board.

  1. Mike Tryson told his co-worker Robin Misgivins right in front of a customer that “she was stupid and should consider herself lucky that he didn’t sock her.”



In stating the impact, the evaluator is connecting the employee’s deficient conduct and the negative effect of this conduct on the company – including clients/customers, employees, or property. The negative impact of the employee’s conduct is particularly important in emphasizing the significance of the of the adverse effect on the company and also in establishing the relationship between remote or abstract employee conduct and the job itself in order to justify disciplinary action.

Impact evidence includes facts concerning:

  • The adverse effect of the employee’s conduct on company operations (e.g. corporate level or department) and other persons (e.g. clients/customers, other employees, and/or public)

  • The adverse effect on the employee’s effectiveness to do the job based on negative public notoriety (e.g. to command the respect and confidence of co-workers, managers and/or public).

    • The costs (monetary/non-monetary) of the employee’s conduct.


    What’s wrong with this impact statement?

    Larry, your repeated failure to be courteous to customers and co-workers has cost the company lots of money and harmed business.

    Identify at least three possible job impact examples, which may be relevant in the above problem.

    How would job impact be relevant in this situation?

    Jack, a 21 year old record store clerk asked Jill, a 14 year-old female customer, for a date. Jack asks Jill not to tell anyone and arranges for the date to occur after he gets off work. Jack arranges for Jill to meet him in the mall food court, and then they go out to Jack’s car. They are caught by the police in the car and Jill is taken home by the officers. Jack is not arrested, but Jill’s mother reports the incident to the store manager.

    How would job impact be relevant here?

    Jerry, a senior security guard, was arrested and convicted for possession of marijuana while attending a party during non-work time on a Saturday evening. The arrest and conviction was reported extensively in the local newspapers. An essential requirement of Jerry’s job is to enforce the safety policies and procedures of the company. Jerry’s effectiveness as a security officer depends on his ability to gain the trust and respect of the

    co-workers and the public.

How would job impact be relevant here?

Marion, a security guard, is responsible for monitoring the parking lot of a company under expansion. Last week, she left the parking lot without authorization during business hours. leaving the lot unsupervised for approximately 10 minutes. There was an eight-foot-deep excavation immediately adjacent to the lot into which visitors could have fallen if distracted by their activities. The excavation was separated from the lot by a fence with a ten-foot gate that remained open for the construction workers. The open gate gave visitors easy access to the excavation.



Legally sufficient documentation requires an evaluator to give employees directions on the proper conduct expected to be followed AND to provide suggestions to assist the employee in complying with these directions.

  • Directions must be clear and unequivocal and include effective time-lines and the consequences if the employee fails to comply.

  • Suggestions for improvement are important to demonstrate that the employee was given adequate guidance and thus afforded a reasonable opportunity to improve.


What’s wrong with these directives?

  1. I can see no reason why you should not be prepared to be at work at 7:30 a.m.
  2. It would be better if you do not have your sales people stocking shelves during busy hours.
  3. I suggest that you follow the appropriate reporting procedures in the future.
  4. In the future, you are directed to treat your co-workers with more respect.
  5. As of this date, you are to refrain from using improper telephone manners.

How would you correct the above directives?

Why are clear and complete directives important?

Why is it important to include the consequences for failing to follow the

directions of an evaluator?

What role does progressive discipline play in drafting the consequence?




Disciplinary memos are written as a result of employee misconduct or deficient performance. The purpose of such communication is to provide the employee with knowledge that the conduct or performance in question is unacceptable and to create a “paper trail” that such notice was given.

In the event of a subsequent suspension or dismissal where the employee challenges the action, an arbitrator, hearing officer, other third-party neutral, or court will focus on the following:

  • Has the employee been put on notice that his/her performance or job conduct is unacceptable?
  • Has that notice, if given, included specific examples of unacceptable performance or poor performance?
  • Has the employee been specifically told what he/she must do in order to meet the employer’s standards?
  • Has the employee been offered assistance in overcoming the noted deficiencies?
  • Has the employee been put on notice of the possible consequences of failure to improve?
  • Has the employee been given a fair opportunity to bring his/her performance or conduct up to an acceptable level?


    How should you respond to this situation?

    You have been informally recording concerns regarding the performance of Hap Liss, which have been maintained in your personnel file on the job site for the past six months. You have notified Hap of your concerns, but never provided him with any documentation. You determined three months ago that Hap’s performance deficiencies could serve as a basis for affecting employment status but didn’t think to include the documentation in his personnel file. Recently, Hap repeated the same unsatisfactory performance and you now want to include all your information into his personnel file.



    The type of document selected by an evaluator to record unsatisfactory employee performance is dictated by the progressive discipline process. This process consists of a series of gradually harsher disciplinary steps, which generally includes the following sequence:

  • Oral Warning
  • Written Warning/ Letter of Reprimand
  • Final Warning
  • Suspension Without Pay
  • Dismissal

  • Steps may be repeated where the cause for disciplinary action requires persistent violation of a rule or where the evaluator wants to establish a pattern of deficient performance.

  • Steps may be skipped based on the severity of the employee’s conduct subject to any limitations in labor contract provisions or company policies.

  • Caution: Progressive discipline policies must be carefully drafted to avoid creating unexpected contractual obligations. Counsel should be consulted before any such policy in implemented.


    Do you agree with this evaluator’s progressive discipline approach?

    Karen, a delivery driver for Bob’s House of Books, failed to deliver to the School of Hard Knocks as noted in her delivery schedule. This is the second such occurrence during the past two months. The first time the evaluator discussed the problem with Karen. This time, the evaluator decided to dismiss Karen.

    What if Karen worked for a medical company instead and failed to deliver plasma to the City Hospital? Would the answer change if a patient died as a result?

    Do you agree with this evaluator’s approach?

    Over the past two months, Jay a maintenance worker failed to follow the evaluator’s directions on three occasions. As a result, Jay received oral warnings for the first two incidents and a written warning for the third incident. Recently, Jay again failed to follow the evaluator’s directions and the evaluator intends to recommend dismissal.

    Do you agree with this evaluator’s approach?

    Mary, a truck driver, inadvertently backed her truck into another vehicle parked in the transportation yard. This is the first time Mary was involved in an accident while driving her truck. The labor contract prohibits an employee from receiving a letter of reprimand unless the employee first receives at least a written warning within the past 12 months except in ” extreme cases of willful misconduct…” The evaluator decided to issue a letter reprimand.

    What if Mary had just had an argument with her supervisor and said “You’ll see what happens when people make me angry.”


    Sample –Employee Performance Notice

    Employee Name_______________________Date__________



    This notice is intended to inform you that you performance or conduct has not been satisfactory and the following action is being taken.

    Written Warning c Final Warning c Suspension Without Pay c

    F On __/__/__ at Approx. ______ at (Location)_____________________

    you were observed/reported by_____________________title_________

    to have engaged in the following conduct:

    R This constitutes_____________________________________________

    in violation of _____________________________________________

    You previously violated this____________on_____________________.

    I Your conduct negatively impacted_____________________________

    inasmuch as ______________________________________________.

    S Effective this date you are directed to stop this conduct. Failure to do

    so will result in __________________________________________.

    To assist in correcting this conduct I offer the following suggestions:

    K Your failure to comply with the above directions will result in_____________________________________________.



    F Facts:

    What did the employee do?

    Pinpoint the specific conduct and describe the conduct in complete and explicit terms. If necessary, supplement general statements with specific examples to provide a proper factual foundation.

    R Rule:

    What should the employee have done?

    Include the rule, authority or expectation relating to the deficient performance, such as policies, labor contract provisions, or prior related directives.

    I Impact:

    What was the impact of the employee’s

    conduct on the company?

    Include facts, which describe the negative or adverse effect of the employee’s conduct.

    S Suggestions/Directives:

    When and what do you want the employee to do to improve performance? What will happen if there is no improvement? How

    can you help the employee to improve?

    Include clear and unequivocal directions in the proper conduct you expect the employee to follow the effective time-lines and the consequences if the employee fails to comply, AND include suggestions for improvement.

    K Knowledge:

    Does the employee have knowledge that the conduct or performance in question is unacceptable and may lead to further discipline.

    Include language notifying the employee of the consequences of failure to improve.


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