Leave a Paper Trail


As a leader of a successful team, it is a must that you be a good record keeper. If I’ve heard it one time in my career, I’ve heard it a hundred times, “Document, Document, Document”.  If it’s not documented it didn’t happen!

A couple days ago I was driving my car and wanted to remember something that popped in my head, so I wrote three letters on the back of my hand as a reminder.  I continued driving, took a phone call, and listened to the radio.  Ten minutes later I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what those three letters meant. I went blank. I knew it was something important.  It was important enough to jot down on the back of my hand but I couldn’t crack the simple code I wrote myself. it just goes to show you, don’t trust your memory.

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14 thoughts on “Leave a Paper Trail

  1. John Smith says:

    Reblogged this on THE STRATEGIC LEARNER and commented:
    Some may say that record keeping and documentation are really management functions, rather than leadership. I agree with this view that a real leader pays attention and keeps track.

  2. Such a good point. I’ve worked with my boss and co-workers to follow up phone calls with an email. It is an extra step that is worth it to make sure all parties are on the same page.

  3. Ernie Tamayo says:

    Cranston…I couldn’t have said it better myself…documentation is necessary especially in today’s business environment to be able to protect the employer from an array issues including wrongful terminations suits, or during unemployment hearings as you had mentioned. But as leaders, its important for managers to avoid using documentation as a fear factor…documentation is what it is: a written record, not just for the employer but for the employee also to refers back to, and it’s important for employees to understand that. Good employees will use the feedback spoken about during their conversations with their managers to improve on their weaknesses, and will see their written records as just that. Thanks for touching on such a crucial topic that unfortunately many managers just don’t get right.

  4. Kerwyn Hodge says:

    Excellent points, Cranston! Documentation is SO necessary for the reasons you mention above…and more. Yes, it is vitally important that businesses document corrective actions, whether these are verbal or written corrections/warnings. Such documentation may be the deciding factor if a former employee files a wrongful termination suit, even as you noted. Yet documentation can do much more.

    Documentation is also necessary in keeping track of a person’s goals and aspirations. As you have conversations with those on your team, they’ll let you know about things they hope to accomplish. You can use that to encourage them when times are tough and they’re feeling down or considering giving up. Additionally, they may drop ideas on improving things that may prove useful at a later date. If implemented, you can give proper commendation for the idea to the appropriate person(s). Therefore, not only is documentation a way of protecting yourself but is also a useful tool in encouraging and promoting others.

  5. Clyde Brewer says:

    Outstanding article that I would love to post on my blog. You can never improve anything if you don’t know what you are doing wrong. As a retired business consultant I can attest that this is the single biggest problem I found in 32 countries and 49 states with thousands of businesses. They never knew what they were losing in time and materials as it was not documented.

  6. I call them “bread crumbs.” 🙂

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