Tech Manager—What Have I Done for You Lately
You do a lot for your company. You track down new technology. You devise new ways to use tech and wrestle it in to usable shape for others. You help improve production and speed this tools, tips and tricks that save time. You do a lot.
It may be hard for others to remember what you do, but you would be surprised at what may slip your mind. When so many things happen, it is easy for some to slip past without much bravado that might anchor it in your mind. Things often change slowly or are introduced over a long period of time and dates might get fuzzy. Fits and starts may confuse the timeline of progress. You do so much and things change so often that you might even need to remind yourself about past troubleshooting, research, remediation, fixes and improvements. So what can you do to keep a record of all the things that pass through your hands? I suggest that you write it down.
Write It Down
I journal at work. It is not an extensive work of prose, just a bulleted list. I make short notes in a Word doc on every major event that happens in my day at work. I keep track of conversations with people. Discussions at meetings. I note phone calls that I make and even emails that I send or receive.
I start each day by opening the file and I keep it open all day long, adding information as I go. Sometimes I fill it out at the end of the day, or even the next morning if I am really busy, but I try to keep up. I write things down as soon as I have time so that the memories are still fresh. I use it to jog my memory, not as verbatim notes. I do sometimes write down exact words in quotes if they are significant.
I went back and looked at my archives and I have my daily lists from way back to 1997. I am kind of a “backup” freak and tend to save everything that is digital. That is when I started doing it electronically. Before that I kept it in a memo pad. Others use calendaring tools and hardcopy journals still. I see that in meetings all the time.
It is not a “To Do” list. It is a “To Done” list. It is a list of what has happened. I use other tools for my task list. It is a record of who I talked to, what I did and what events happened related to my day, not a long list of details. I record decisions. Just enough to remind me of an event. I do put in names and phone numbers, website links, company names, etc.
When someone asks me about an event or a decision. If I want to refresh my memory or review the situation, I go back to my Journal. I have often gone back and found entries related to issues that have come up with dates and times and such. It helps me verify what has happened and what information related to the topic. I have had many people comment on their appreciation for my ability to find the date, time, event that they are talking about.
Now to the subject of this article. Are you able to outline what you have done for the firm and folks at the firm in the past? The Journal will help you do just that. By having a running list of things that happened at work, I can go back and review them as warranted. I do this on several occasions.
I sometimes need to go back and reconstruct a conversation or a timeline. When people want to know what happened, I can rebuild the timeline of what came first then second and so on. If someone wants to know when we started using a tech product, I can find it. If they need to know how long we have been using a tool, I can tell them (and I do not have to guess). When there is a decision that needs review, I can go back and find out who talked about it and when. It really allows me to verify the sometimes faulty information that might be out there clouding the waters of a topic. I appreciate that. I also may go back and find that I am wrong, and I admit that to folks when that happens.
When a milestone comes around, like a new year or a company event or it is my time to get with the boss for my evaluation, I typically go back and pull out the major milestone events and projects that me or my team have completed. It is amazing how much I forget about things that we have done. I bring the list with me and show others (like my boss) to revisit the accomplishments that we have made. It is not “What have you done for me lately.” It is about what you have done for them and the firm.
I also use this list of accomplishments to invigorate my team or office as I remind them of what they have achieved. As I go through the list, I thank them for what they have done and remind them that I am proud of their efforts. I often hear “Oh yeah, I forgot about that”. When I hear that, I know that my journaling is providing positive impact to our firm and I invigorates me to keep doing it.
When others forget all the things you do, your journal helps remind them. You become invisible when everything is working right. So you need to remind others of your positive impact on the firm. When you do that, maintain a humble, service oriented attitude. You subtly mention the things you have done in the past and nudge others into remembrance.
Not Fool Proof
I do find that I am unable to find details in my journal that I need. I go back and search and find nothing, or I find gaps in the record. This reminds me that I am not as conscientious as I think I might be. I can’t explain why I leave off what might be key information like start dates, completion dates, team members names or important details.
By keeping a record of what happened, you stand a better chance of getting your timelines and history right. You encourage others by reminding them of what they have completed. Writing it down is good, reviewing it is an enhancement and keeping that record over the long haul gives you a reference point when questions arise.
Mark Kiker has more than 25 years of hands-on experience with technology. He is fully versed in every area of management from deployment planning, installation, and configuration to training and strategic planning. As an internationally known speaker and writer, he is a returning speaker at Autodesk University since 1996. Mark is currently serving as Director of IT for SIATech, a non-profit public charter high school focused on dropout recovery. He maintains two blog sites, www.caddmanager.com and www.bimmanager.com.