If you’re a supervisor in the federal government, you need a notebook. Because federal employees have multiple avenues to challenge management actions, contemporaneous documentation is critical evidence that will help you demonstrate bona fide, legitimate reasons for your workplace decisions. You don’t have to write a novel; simply include a date, time, and any relevant details.

Here’s an example: “On January 10, 2020, I received Employee X’s annual leave request for January 13, 2020. I denied the request because Employees Y and Z are already on annual leave that day and Employee  X is needed to cover Project A in their absence. Employees Y and Z  requested leave for January 13, 2020 on November 19, 2019.”

It might seem obvious, yet many supervisors don’t take the time to make contemporaneous notes. You might never need them, but you’ll be very glad you have them if the situation calls for evidence in addition to your testimony.

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