Thursday, February 12, 2009

Keep Copies of Instructions and Procedures

Try to develop the habit of always maintaining a copy of instructions and procedures that you’ve been provided at work. Having a clear record of what you were asked to do and how you were asked to accomplish it will make your life easier down the line. This is especially true if you are provided instructions by a person that later makes an accusation of poor performance against you.

The ultimate fault for any wrongdoing will be with that person—-so long as you followed their instructions to the letter. Having a copy of instructions and procedures may not stop a coworker or manager from saying that you should have read between the lines and taken some undocumented steps, but it does go a long way in showing that you followed the proper course of action.

Remember not to skip any steps in someone’s procedures or instructions. If you think steps are unnecessary, ask before not performing those actions! If the person gives you the go-ahead to skip steps, get it in writing! Send an email confirming they’ve approved your revised procedures. This will avoid confusion later and will help clear up ultimate accountability for any problems that may come up in the future.

If you are given instructions verbally, write them down and read them back to the person before they leave your office. After that, follow up with an email that will give that person the opportunity to point out any steps you’ve missed or any misunderstandings with how you should proceed. You can simply write, "As discussed, I will be taking x,y,z steps to complete the assignment and..."

Having a copy of instructions and procedures may be very important for a complaint that may develop at a later time. For instance, if someone is accusing you of incorrectly performing your job or of simply not knowing your job, copies of official instructions and procedures can help demonstrate your compliance with the requirements of your job and can show that the accusations against you are blatantly false.

Accusations may not be made immediately. That's why it's important to keep copies of all instructions and procedures. You may not hear complaints until a mid-year or year-end review. Keeping copies of instructions and procedureswill help you prove that false allegations are exactly that--FALSE!!

Remember, when employees are desperate they will grasp for straws to justify actions against an employee. That includes making false allegations and/or exaggerating about things that have happened on the job. Instructions and procedures are good forms of evidence, should you need to prove you are not at fault for issues in the workplace.

Finally, some instructions and procedures will include the timeline for completion and not just steps to perform. If you are accused of missing a deadline, instructions with a timeline can help prove when your piece of work was due and you can use other evidence (documents, forms, emails, etc.) to show that you complied with that deadline.


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