Almost every job has CYA as a part of their training agenda. What is CYA? Well, for those that don’t know, it means to cover your butt, tooshie, bottom, rear-end…you get it by now do you? Seriously, it is making sure that you are accurately documenting every experience that you have, in the event that it is questioned in the future. It doesn’t matter how great a communicator you might seem to be, you should be able to produce the backup and supporting information for all important conversations that you have.
What is considered important?
- Major conversations that have an impact on your work
- Any pricing quotes
- Any contract negotiations (include all versions of contracts)
- Any price adjustments and discounts
- Conflict resolution discussions
- Confirmations of service, whether it be an email stating that a vendor will do a task for you
- All planning discussions (include emails) with hotels, vendors, and clients to include documentation and timelines
What about verbal discussions?
Some conversations need to be had in person – we get that. Prepare the discussion in advance by sharing an agenda. When items appear on an agenda, there is a great chance that it will be discussed. Taking notes of the discussion, will ensure that there is accurate record of any outcomes of the discussion – or if the topic was discussed at all. After the meeting, route the meeting minutes or a follow-up to the meeting or verbal discussion. It is best to distribute within 24-hours of the discussion, and while the topics are fresh in everyone’s mind. Sometimes this can be just a quick email to state all of the points and outcomes. Other times, you will need a separate document (ie. minutes) that summarizes discussion points.
What happens if I don’t?
Maybe you are one of those individuals that like to keep their inbox clear and delete your emails. STOP! There are other ways to clear your inbox, but keep the backup for the work that you have done. Try creating folders, and moving emails to a specific folder if that helps you. There will be a time that you will get asked certain things, (Did the hotel really quote that room rate? Did the client give that instruction? Do you remember if the florist said he would be coming at a particular time?) and you will need to produce the backup to support your answer. For some people, this will just be a means to quickly verify information, and for others, finding documentation will help them keep a job. Needless to say, CYA – is important.
Sometimes you are working on a program that has some sketchy elements to it, or a client is asking you to do something that you are uncomfortable with. Keep your conversation and documentation clear and concise. Keep track of every last word, in case things come back to haunt you later. In the event you are questioned, you will get through your situation quicker, with less hassle, and you will feel better about yourself that you made the initial steps to protect yourself.
When it comes down to it, the person with the information wins. Make sure you have your ducks in a row.
Have you had a situation where you were saved by CYA? Or has the lack of CYA cost you? Would love to hear your stories!
Photo credit: Ram Joshi via Flickr