Legacy Binders: Empowering Employees for Success

By Hannah Rathje | Posted on May 16, 2024

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Starting a new job or securing a promotion can feel like you’re standing in front of a fire hose, with a torrent of information, policies, procedures and expectations coming at you at once. Do you recall your first week in your position? How much of that onslaught did you retain by the end of it?

Reflecting on my own experience, I remember feeling overwhelmed during my initial days, struggling to keep up with the flood of information. Despite my best efforts, I retained very little, often needing to repeatedly ask my supervisor to reiterate details. Upon becoming a supervisor and beginning the process of onboarding my own new employees, I tried my best to filter the information they were given, to no avail.

Over the course of six years in my department, Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, I've held three official titles and four additional unofficial ones. To say I wear a lot of hats is an understatement. Some transitions between roles were seamless, while others felt foreign, requiring a larger learning curve. Every time someone departed from the department, they took a portion of institutional knowledge with them, leaving behind lists of contacts or login credentials but little else. However, my recent transition into the Community Recreation Supervisor position introduced me to a game-changing resource: the "Legacy Binder.”

As much as I’d like to claim the credit for this resource, it goes to Megan Heatwole, the former Community Recreation Supervisor at Lynchburg Parks and Recreation. The binder was curated for her division and centers. As I continued to wear various hats, I appreciated the value and implemented additional Legacy Binders throughout the department. Each binder is tailored to the specific division or center it serves, accommodating the differences in procedures and resources.

Legacy Binder Essentials:

  1. Mission: Outlining the department's mission and, if applicable, the center's specific focus, to guide employees in setting and achieving career goals.
  2. Emergency Action Plan: Providing clear instructions for handling emergencies, ensuring employees know whom to contact and where to seek medical care if necessary.
  3. Important Departmental Staff: Detailing the roles and responsibilities of key team members, such as who processes payroll, who handles marketing, who can answer questions on budgeting, etc. Additionally, I include a staff tree to facilitate internal communication and collaboration.
  4. Staff Contact Sheet: Listing all staff contact information for easy reference.
  5. Recurring Due Dates: Highlighting deadlines for timecards, financial reporting, and other regular tasks.
  6. Employee Expectations: Clarifying dress codes, communication norms, performance standards, and more.
  7. Partnerships: Outlining all partnership agreements who that position will interact with to encourage understanding and collaboration.
  8. Daily Duties: Outlining routine tasks to guide day-to-day operations.
  9. Annual Calendar: Highlighting key annual events, deadlines for brochure production, facility maintenance schedules, and annual reports.

These elements are crucial for fostering a cohesive and informed workforce. Documenting and organizing such information streamlines the onboarding process, empowering employees to become more self-sufficient and effective in their roles. The binder is designed in such a way that as more information is obtained by the employee, they can add it to the binder, building their valuable knowledge to pass along to the next employee.

In conclusion, the Legacy Binder serves as a valuable tool for both new and experienced employees by ensuring continuity, efficiency, and clarity within the department. I invite you to share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below as we continue to explore ways to enhance the onboarding process and encourage our teams' success.

Hannah Rathje (she/her) is the community recreation supervisor for Lynchburg Parks and Recreation

This blog post was written in partnership with the NRPA Young Professionals Network (YPN). Learn more about the NRPA YPN on NRPA Connect or on the YPN Facebook group.