Steps to Management Success – Step 35: A Paper Trail Will Help You Find Your Way Back

Written By Rick Frishman Published March 31st, 2010

STEP THIRTY-FIVE

A Paper Trail Will Help You Find Your Way Back

If you’ve ever heard of the acronym CYA, then you know one good reason for this rule. Keeping meticulous records about who did what when isn’t just critical information to have on hand if and when you are ever called on the carpet to explain or defend yourself. It also gives you the insurance of being able to recollect past actions and decisions without having to exclusively rely on your memory.

WHAT IT MEANS: What happened at the last meeting or in your project update discussion last night might be fresh in your mind this morning, but it won’t be three months or three years from now. If there is no written record, there is no evidence, and it becomes a matter—often an impossible-to-prove matter—of “he said, she said.” Everything you do, say, or agree to in business is on the record in a certain sense. By documenting as much as possible, you are effectively ensuring that this record stays clear and secure.

ACTION PLAN: Get into the habit of taking notes of what happens—during meetings, phone calls, and even less formal situations. Learning how to use a PC-based notes or PDA program is worth the effort, as it makes your notes retrievable by date, names, project name, or keywords.

EVEN BETTER: Review these notes on a regular basis. They can help you prepare for meetings, future customer calls, future projects, and performance reviews (yours and your reports’). As a rule of thumb, if anything is said, done, or decided upon that you consider significant, it’s worth writing down. E-mails that are relevant to this rule can easily be copied and pasted into whatever notes or contact management system you prefer.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)


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