It was the best of documentation. It was the worst of documentation. That’s what we experienced with two recent departures from our office.
One of those leaving had received a three ring binder “bible” when she started two years previously. It clearly outlined the responsibilities of the position by duties and by month. In her two years in the position, she was diligent to update the binder with new information and things that she felt would be helpful if someone new stepped into the role.
She loved that position and had expected to retire from it years from now. However, an unexpected opportunity presented itself and she walked into my office and presented her resignation letter. Always wanting the best for our employees, I congratulated her and wished her the best in her new adventure. Part of what made that easier was that she had been so diligent to prepare for the next person even though she expected to be in the role for many more years.
In contrast, we lost another person around the same time – a person whose job included lots of details and deadlines. The person knew the job well, but was the only person who did, and when departing, had not assembled anything that could even reasonably be called “the message” for the next person.
Replacing the first person was pretty easy – there was certainly lots to learn, but with the position bible in hand as a ready reference, the new person was able to step into the role with confidence, knowing there was something to turn to when questions arose. Granting that this was not Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the position and there are always new things to learn, the excellent documentation has helped make the transition smooth.
The second transition was much more of a challenge. Before hiring a new person for the role, someone else on staff had to learn it from the ground up – both to fill the gap between people and to be able to help a new person who would take the position more long term. The stress created by that extra burden was unavoidable, but also unhealthy.
What kind of documentation exists for the work of your employees and key volunteers? Would someone new be able to step in and go forward with confidence? Would a new person have to start from scratch? Help yourself and your ministry – document with an accurate job description and with detailed procedures for the regular responsibilities of the roles in your church. That includes your role.
I’m not sure you will be able to say, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done,” but it will sure make your life and the life of the next person easier in the long run.