Hey, what’s up, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com.
I got this question about structuring a weekly report. I talk about creating a weekly report
in my book Soft Skills: A Software Developer’s Life Manual. In that book I’ve got a couple
of chapters where I talk about career stuff and about how to really do well in a corporate
job or in a regular job. One of the things I talk about, one of the techniques that I’ve
often used that I pretty much use for every job once I figured this out was this idea
of creating a weekly report. Basically I got this question about how to
structure the weekly report. I’m going to answer that in a minute here. But I want to
talk a little bit about this idea of a weekly report. This is something that I sort of stumbled
upon. If you’ve ever been a manager you know that one of the most important things, one
of the most difficult things for your job is getting people to tell you what they’re
doing or rather to know what they’re doing, to get the communication, to check on your
people and say, “Hey, is this task getting done?” to know what the progress is. You’re
basically gathering information from all these people. A good manager does this is they gather
all the information and they send it on up, they summarize it and they check the progress,
they make sure that things are going right. They’re keeping all the pots on the stove
cooking. That’s what a good manager does. The reason why I’m saying that is because
as an employee what you can do to help your manager to make them look good is that you
can give them that information. Here’s a quick tip for you that’s going to help you a lot.
It’s something that you should do. For every job whether you’re asked to do this or not
and something—when I took a new job this is the first thing I would do. On the very
first week I would send out what I call a weekly report.
It’s real simple. All I did was this. Every day I would track what I did. What did I do?
Make a few bullets of what I did, what did I accomplish, were there any big accomplishments
and any kind of kudos that I got in, kind of thing like that and just tracked it. I’m
basically tracking my accomplishments and my task and what I’m doing each and every
day. At the end of the week I would send a weekly report that’s a summary of all of the
days that I did and then a little bit of more information like maybe like a highlight of
the week, what I’m planning on doing next week, and maybe if I have a question or I
have something that’s blocking me. I would send that out to my manager unsolicited.
The other thing that I would do is on the first week when I send this out I would explain
this process and I say, “Look, this is what I’m doing. I just want to let you know, to
make sure that you know what I’m doing, what I’m working on each day so I’m going to send
you this report every week if that’s okay. I’ve also CCed your manager on this just in
case you’re sick or you’re out or something so that that information will go to someone
so they know what’s going on just in case that you are unable to get to this and to
report that information if you’re out. If you don’t mind, I’ve just CCed him just as
an FYI. Just so that he has this information. No one ever complained about this. They loved
it. It was a very popular thing to do. It’s such a valuable thing. There are a couple
of reasons why this is valuable. One of the main reasons why this is valuable is because,
like I said, you’re helping your manager by giving them all the information they need.
You’re one less person they have to manage. You’re basically like a free roll for them.
They’re going to love it because they don’t have to go and check on you and figure out
what’s going on. Communication is so important. As being someone who manages a team now, I
can tell you that if I have an employee, someone who’s working for me who communicates well,
I love it. It’s so awesome because I don’t have to guess what’s going on, I don’t have
to bug them. They’re giving me the stuff. It’s so awesome. You’re going to be valuable
there. Not only that, but a lot of times a manager
will be managing a very big team. If you can be the person who’s always in front of them,
every week they’re seeing what you’re doing, they’re seeing what your accomplishments are
you’re going to stand out and that’s really, really important. Because it’s really easy
to do a whole lot of good work and if no one knows what you’re doing and how hard you’re
working and all these accomplishments that you’re having it’s not going to matter, especially
when review time comes around. That’s another big point is when review time
comes around. This is sort of a CYA. I’ll tell you a quick story. One time I was working
for a corporation. I won’t name the name here but they were doing stack sorting. If you
don’t know about that, stack ranking basically, they have a certain number of people that
they’re going to give an S grade to, and a certain number an E and they basically have
to—they don’t grade you on performance, they sort you. Only a certain number of people
can get the promotion or get the raise or be graded well. Some people have to be near
the bottom or just meets expectations. Well, I got near the bottom one time on a
review and I was kicking butt. I mean I was definitely one of the most productive employees,
but the problem was I had just been promoted. In order to—political correctness type of
thing, people with more seniority that hadn’t been promoted for a while they needed to move
them up so they moved them up to stack rank. I was not very happy about this because I
don’t like that. It should be a reflection of my ability. I should be judged on—if
I’m competing against people, if I kick their ass I want to be at the top, I don’t want
to be at the bottom. Lucky for me I was able to send the review
board and my manager a list of 50 accomplishments that I accomplished that year of big ones
too, right? I knew exactly what I did every single day of the year. The evidence was so
overwhelming that they ended up moving me to the very top because it would have been
an HR nightmare to try to justify having someone above me or moving me that low when there
was this documentation that I made sure went into my HR file that showed all these accomplishments.
I had it documented. I had inconclusive proof that I deserved the raise and I got the raise.
That’s super valuable especially when you have to fill out your review and you say what
did you do this year, what did you accomplish and you can list so many things. It’s awesome.
It’s really awesome so it’s well worth the investment of a few minutes every day to keep
track of this. Not only that but it’s a good CYA as well.
I also had an incident where someone who didn’t like me was trying to get me fired. They said,
“Well, John is not doing much work. I saw him doing this. He was taking a long lunch.”
Guess what, when it went to HR I said, “What day? What day was I not at my desk or not
working or didn’t accomplish something? Oh okay, February 3rd? Yeah, okay, here’s exactly
what I did on February 3rd. oh yeah, and I sent it to my manager and I CCed his manager
so I didn’t just make this up. I’ve got the email here.” Guess what happened? Guess what
the result of that was. It was very clear who was trying to make things up and who was
being honest because I had the inconclusive proof—the conclusive proof.
Anyway, it’s extremely valuable for those reasons. It’s something that’s really easy
to do. Here’s what you do and here’s—I’ll get to the question here. Here’s the format,
all you do is this, it’s real simple. Every day you just take a few bullets of the major
things that you did. The format that I would put it in is don’t send this every single
day, send it once a week. Put Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday this is what I
did, 3 to 5 bullets at the most. You want it to be quick for someone to read so they
actually do read it and just summarize what you know and highlight the accomplishments,
make them look good, right? Then put a little bit of a summary, maybe a little bit. You
don’t want to write a novel. You want to make this real easy to do. That’s the format. It’s
simple as that. You can use your own format if you want.
Here’s the thing, I’ll give you this tip. Do not make it too complicated because if
you make it too complicated, you make it too much work for yourself you’re not going to
do it every day. If you don’t do it every day the value gets dropped off. You’ve got
to be consistent with this, right? This is the key here. Just make it simple, make it
something that you can do in 5 to 10 minutes. What I would do is throughout the day as I’m
working on something I would just open up my file and throw my bullet point in there
and I’d have that file ready for the end of the week. At the end of the day, 10 minutes
before I left I would go and I would straighten it up and make sure I had it there for that
day so that I wouldn’t have to sit there on Friday and try to remember what I did on Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, right? I’ve been there, done that. You don’t want to do
that. Anyway, this is something that’s extremely
valuable. Like I said, check out my book. If you haven’t gotten my book, seriously,
get it, Soft Skills: A Software Developer’s Life Manual. You can get it here. I also have
an audible version where I recorded the audio. I threw in some extra content as well. Definitely
check it out. If you do have the book, I would really appreciate it if you leave a review
on the book. I really appreciate that. It helps other people find the book.
Anyway, that’s my tip. Hopefully that answers the question here. I’ve gotten a few questions
about the reports, but I think it’s a really good technique. I highly recommend doing it.
It’s something that can really make a huge difference in your career and it just—it’s
going to make your manager’s job easier. If you make your manager look good it’s going
to be good for you, I promise you. Anyway, if you a question you can email me
at [email protected] If you like this channel, subscribe to the channel. All
right, I’ll talk to you next time. Take care.