While in law school, I had a professor stress to us the importance of creating a CYA file. CYA stands for Cover Your A**. The purpose of this file is to document your work so that if something goes wrong, no one can place blame on you for something that isn’t your fault. Of course, if you screw up, the CYA file will be no help, but if someone else screws up, a CYA file will help you prove that you did what you were supposed to do and blame lies elsewhere.
I hadn’t bothered to create a CYA file at my current job because I’m not working at a law firm where I have to worry about malpractice suits, so I didn’t think it was necessary. Without going into detail, recent events in my office coupled with conversations I have had with some people in power have made me realize that exactly what I need to do is create a CYA file.
What goes in a CYA file? Whatever you want. Some people simply keep a daily planner where they write down the tasks they have completed and the people they have contacted that day. The benefit of this style is that it’s great for your personal use. “How long ago did I give Bob that memo for review? Three days ago? Well, he should be done by now.” Another method is to simply save e-mails and files that are turned in, or a very basic log of communications.
One key point to keeping a CYA file is that you shouldn’t keep it in your office. Why? Have you ever seen someone get fired and escorted out of the office? I have. It happens. Someone boxes up your personal stuff for you and out you go. And what if they miss your CYA file? Same goes with keeping it on your office computer. The best thing to do is keep it in your home or on a flash drive that you carry with you at all times, depending if you go for the low tech or high tech route.
I’m just beginning my CYA file, so I’m saving some pertinent e-mails that have been sent in recent weeks and also starting a contact log where I detail what I discussed with which employees, when the discussions occurred, and the outcome of those discussions.
I hope this isn’t something that I need to use. I will take the blame when I make a mistake, but if I get wrongfully accused, you better believe I’m going to put up a fight.
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