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The Value of Keeping Good Records

by Karen Schmidt


I bought a 2013 gardening diary and planner produced by Gardening Australia, not because I need one but because I couldn't resist the beautiful colour pictures on every page! However, the moment I opened it a seed of a blog post idea appeared to me on the first line of the first page.

It simply said "Gardeners like to keep records."

A year in a garden can see many changes that if left unrecorded can mean the loss of valuable lessons on what works and what doesn't. If used to record photos of the garden "before" and "after" it becomes a permanent record of your progress. Gardeners can't possibly remember every little detail so the diary helps them to be more effective and efficient. There is nothing more fascinating than reading over old diaries, remembering back to past successes and failures.

Record keeping in the workplace is no different. You can relate it to positive and negative situations. On the positive side, I always encourage people to keep records of their personal achievements which can come in handy at performance review time. It's true to say that anything bad you do is remembered forever but good deeds tend to have a lifespan of about one month! Take pride in your achievements and those of your team. Record them to remind yourselves and others now and in the future.

On the negative side, smart leaders know they need to keep good records of issues with staff members in case a matter needs to be escalated. Some of the most frustrating situations I've encountered as a HR professional involve line managers who have a problem staff member they can't take action on because the right records have not been kept. They might have been a problem for 6 months or longer but if the leader doesn't have accurate, detailed records of their behaviour and their attempted remedies then it is difficult for HR to escalate the matter. Even early verbal conversations should be recorded in some form as they can count as evidence of your attempts to fix a situation.

So how do your records look? Could you benefit from starting a diary for your workplace garden? Maybe you should go out and buy a beautiful planner to record things in, like the one I now have.

About the author: Karen Schmidt is a speaker, workshop leader and facilitator. Her website is

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