in Higher Ed

Passing along the note

Was there something in the web manager’s manual that indicated that when leaving somewhere you shouldn’t leave notes of what you did?

Years before leaving my first college web job, I would think nervously about when I had to leave. I had things everywhere, a track system that was largely in my head and tend to get things done faster than I can remember. So when it was finally time to move to a new job elsewhere, I dreaded having to get everything together for the new person.

But being the guy who used to write several pages of notes for future tennis director’s at the camp I spent worked at, there was no doubt I’d be leaving behind plenty of notes to make sure whoever succeeded me had more to go on than just the help of a work-study student and their own MacGyver-like talents.

Those of you with huge staffs, just skip this post…I don’t wanna hear it.

Lucky for me in that first role, that my successor was hired from within. So I had a few weeks to show her the ropes, she’d already been using the CMS we’d switched to and it wasn’t as hard to leave a trail of notes, because I could just do massive brain dumps and we had lots of time to transition.

Fast forward to what seems like several years later and I’ve transitioned into my third role of this kind over the past few years and the bumps are the same. Every person seems to keep too much of one thing and not enough of other things. I think it depends on who you succeed. I’ve often succeed people who were clearly more “writer” types than web types and so, it’s made it interesting to see the sorts of things that people who have been bathing in code for years tend to focus on, versus those who bathe in words.

For instance, I hate paper. I can’t stand it on my desk or strewn about my office. I do my best to rid myself of as much of it as possible, because it just makes my life easier. But some people seem to really love copious amounts of paper and keeping notes and files of things that are usually not that important.

So what’s the point? We need to be better about spreading the word about keeping notes. No one can remember everything they’ve done and most of us never think about leaving to go anyplace after we’ve taken a job, especially as we get older and more established. But, short of a sudden reason to go, it’s so much easier for those who have to follow you, to have some documentation as to what you’ve done, things to watch out for or anything else helpful.

Think about what you wanted to know when you started to job, if you could’ve picked the brain of the person who served before you. You might just save someone a great deal of time and make their day — or heck, month — in a new job a little better.