Here’s a modest proposal: Ban the word “documentation.” The word is cold, lifeless and dehumanizing. Instead of encouraging growth, trust and engagement in employees who need to adjust their behavior or performance, it causes stagnation, fear, and withdrawal.
It never ceases to amaze how poorly dispensary managers document important matters. Their “documentation” more often helped plaintiffs’ attorneys than it did their employers. Does this mean never put anything in writing? No.
It means shifting your paradigm from documenting to “cover yourself” to using a written expression to promote clarity and understanding. A helpful communication tool is called the “Same Day Summary” (SDS). An SDS is a written confirmation composed and sent shortly after a meeting or discussion. It follows these simple rules:
- It’s short and to the point. It lists the key takeaways.
- It lists the key takeaways, which include: (a) commitments made – who will do what by when; (b) critical facts or understandings where divergent memories or interpretations could be problematic; and (c) recognition of positive or constructive behavior.
- It’s written as soon as possible after the real-time conversation, typically well within a day.
- The recipient is invited to add anything he or she thinks was omitted or to correct any perceived misstatements.
Here are the SDS’s benefits, followed by some ways to apply it to your performance management and day-to-day needs:
- Because they’re written while the conversation is fresh in mind, they’re usually accurate.
- Because they are limited to summarizing only the key takeaways, SDS’s take minutes to write.
- If sent promptly with language such as “Let me know if I missed or misstated anything,” they’re user-friendly for recipients. Recipients don’t need to reply unless they think the writer missed something significant.
- E-mail is a handy SDS vehicle. In addition to being quick and efficient, e-mail makes it easy to store SDS’s electronically. After hitting “Send“, click and drag the SDS into a labeled folder. This makes subsequent retrieval quick and easy.
- In a non-judgmental, non-authoritarian way, the SDS aligns writer and recipient. It provides a checklist they can use to hold themselves and each other accountable.
Dispensary Performance Management
As a performance management tool, the SDS shifts the communication from hierarchal (boss to an employee) to collaborative (teammates pursuing shared goals). Cannabis dispensaries have started to incorporated SDS’s into both its performance management training and employee Individual Development Plan program.
The Same Day Summary promotes active listening, a critical ingredient in any effective performance management or employee development program. Since it’s a summary of what was discussed, the primary focus remains on the parties’ interaction, not their documents.
Cannabis Dispensary Everyday Use
SDS’s are extremely useful for any conversation of significance so start using them in conversations with opposing counsel. However, the SDS’s uses go far beyond law and lawyers, SDS’s are used to capture key takeaways of any meeting of importance.
The ‘Same Day Summary’ is how universal it is in its application, cannabis industry leaders who’ve made it part of their regular routine have found the SDS a great way to index every significant interaction in addition to cannabis industry training.
Cannabis Industry Scalability
Cannabis Industry HR professionals sometimes question whether a document as informal as an SDS can be used effectively in large employers.
The answer is yes, provided you integrate your SDS practice with your document retention system, including preserving e-mail SDS’s when you have auto-delete policies.
Using the Same Day Summary method, it rapidly replaces old methods of documenting, by teaching it to the HR professionals on dispensary staff and directing them how to use it. The SDS is easy to administer, it protects the company, and it promotes clear communication – all in a single e-mail.
Don’t Make These Mistakes
Are there missteps to avoid? Yes. Here are the most common:
- Wordiness. You’re not taking meeting minutes and you don’t get points for comprehensiveness. List only the most important items addressed, such as specific commitments or deadlines. If the recipient thinks you missed something, he or she can respond to your invitation to make corrections. Less is more.
- Continuing the conversation. Don’t add, embellish, reflect, opine, etc. The conversation is over. You’re simply memorializing its critical points. The SDS is a summary of a real-time conversation, not a substitute.
- Delay. Research shows that we start to forget new information almost as quickly as we learn it. The longer you wait, the greater the likelihood that your SDS will omit or misstate something important. Also, delay makes it harder to write the SDS because you’ll have to rack your memory regarding what was said.
Let us know what you think.