Why is notetaking important?
A workplace health and safety representative and union steward’s ability to take accurate notes is one of the most important skills required to perform their duties. Taking notes is a significant part of the job of every workplace health and safety advocate and union steward. Research studies have shown that you can forget up to 90 percent of what you have learned in less than a week, which is one reason why notetaking is so essential.
The purpose of notetaking is to aid your memory and to provide a record of important information, facts, or thoughts that can help you remember what you have seen and heard.
The notes taken by a workplace advocate can determine whether:
- A return to work is successful;
- A grievance is won; or
- A favourable arbitration decision is reached.
The central purpose of notetaking is to keep a record of the conversations in meetings. In some cases, advocates can retain and apply information without even reviewing notes because of the active learning process that occurs while writing them down. When you take notes, you are turning a passive activity – listening – into an active process.
Some of the key purposes for taking notes as a workplace health and safety representative and/or shop steward are to keep a written record of:
- Accommodation meetings;
- Disciplinary meetings;
- Return to work meetings; and
- Worker compensation meetings.
When should I take notes?
Before the meeting:
- Arrive early and give yourself time to get comfortable and collect your thoughts.
- Prepare the page with the date, names of everyone involved, witnesses, and location.
- Review your purpose for attending the meeting and your role within it.
During the meeting:
- It does not matter how you record your notes - just as long as you take them.
- Record management’s position on the issue at hand.
- Ask questions. This will help you get a clear understanding and give you time to pause in your notetaking.
After the meeting:
- Review your notes as soon as possible to see if you might have missed anything.
- Rewrite and/or type notes so that they are legible.
- Sign and date your notes.
* Never throw away your original notes. They may be requested to compare with your completed version.
How do I know what to write down in a meeting?
- Verbal cues: pauses, direct statements like “this is important,” and such phrasing as “first, second, last, etc.”
- Anything passed around is important information.
- Summary statements.
Recap - Introduction to Notetaking
Notetaking is an essential skill for workplace advocates. Actively listening and taking notes during meetings increases the retention of the information. And notetaking is important for record keeping.
UFCW Canada webCampusPLUS offers an online course on Better Notetaking, available to all UFCW members, family members, and allies free of charge. Click here for details on the webCampusPLUS Better Notetaking course.