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Play 5 - Document, document, document

To help yourself get situated, take judicious notes on everything. Type notes in a Google Doc, or grab a pen/pencil and paper even, if that’s easier for you! Document as much as possible, then spend some time reviewing your notes to organize and synthesize them, especially if you initially hand-wrote them. Please remember: there are government record-keeping and FOIA policies.

For example, if you are taking notes during a meeting and capture quotes , thoughts, and ideas as they are shared, spend some time afterward organizing things into broader themes. Write out complete thoughts in response to the information (this will help you strategize how to approach work!), tease out specific action items (especially ones you are responsible for), and call out items that you need to follow up on for more context.

Additionally, create an organization system that will work for you. It’s okay if you create a unique system for yourself or leverage an existing system from elsewhere; the important thing is that you’re organized. As a supervisor, the increasing demands on your attention make organizational skills more necessary than ever - you’ll need to follow up on things at a moment’s notice!

The earlier and more often you organize your thoughts and notes, the easier things will become, especially when you take full ownership of projects and supervise people. You will have already compiled a solid collection of resources for yourself that will help you respond to inquiries quickly, and you’ll also be able to share out with others.

As a supervisor, documentation on team members is especially important. Note anything you learn about the team members you will be responsible for as well as your own observations. This will greatly help come performance review time or handling any situations that may require personnel actions.

When creating documentation, be mindful of , external,Inclusive Language principles as well as , external,TTS-only, phrases flagged by Inclusion Bot. Be specific about what is happening, refraining from vague personal opinions. For example: if someone is struggling to complete a task, avoid phrases such as “I don’t think this person is a good fit for the team.” Instead, write ‘They took 2 weeks longer than we agreed on to merge the pull request.” This leaves you concrete details to refer back to later as well as mitigating bias.

Action Items

  • Create an organization system for your notes and any resources you are provided with
  • Configure Gmail to work for your organizational style: set-up filters, create labels, etc.
  • Configure your Google Calendar: set your working hours, reserve focus time, etc.
  • Learn how your team manages documentation as well as your supervisor and your larger Business Unit.

Play 5 Reflection Questions

  • When do you feel most “on top of things”? What systems do you put in place to aid you?
  • When do you feel overwhelmed? How might you adapt your strategies from #1 to help you feel less overwhelmed, particularly as you handle supervisory responsibilities?

Play 5 Case Studies

  • Your team is starting a project that’s new to all of you. You’ve heard that your business unit tried to tackle a similar project years ago, but the project was abandoned due to lack of funding. You have found some resources and paperwork from the original project. Currently, you have located well over 100 pages of what appears to be unorganized documents and notes. How will you approach this? How might you leverage the old information and/or start anew
  • During your first 2 months in the role, the swirl of new information overwhelmed you. You are feeling great about the overall direction your team is moving, and performance problems have been minimal. But, you haven’t consistently written down or tracked any of your direct report’s accomplishments. You are about 3 months away from mid-year performance reviews: what will you do?
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