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TW Magazine
November, 2007
Catapult Status Through Status Reports:
Boost Productivity
Through Weekly Status Reports

Your annual review approaches. You deserve a nice raise this year. After all, you worked hard, scored new accounts, closed sales, took initiative and even mentored others in your department to success. Yet each year your boss focuses instead on one or two hiccups that occurred, and all the rest seems forgotten. What's a rep to do? If you’ve been generating weekly status reports your work is already half done!

Introducing The Weekly Status Report

Every employee (not just sales reps) should generate a weekly status report to document successes and progress, and identify issues of note. Not only will it keep your manager apprised of your accounts, projects, time expenditure and focus, but it will remind you of how you spent your time, what you accomplished and why you deserve that nice raise, promotion or bonus at review time.

Avoid A Career In Arrears…Manage Yours

Realistically, can you recall everything you accomplished at work in the last year? Few can. Why tie your raise to your memory? When you generate weekly status reports you have it all in writing, for your review and also for updating your résumé.

"There is so much competitive, bottom line pressure in the workplace today that employees have little time left for their career management. Everyone’s too busy working to think strategically about their advancement." So says Cathy Krizik, Career Advisor at NOVA in Sunnyvale.

Krizik advises: "Keeping track of successes can be a wonderful tool for career portfolios, upcoming reviews or, at the very least, self-esteem. Self examination is never a waste of time and this technique provides a weekly opportunity to examine progress and areas for improvement."

Format For Success

I recommend a simple template for weekly status reports, with four sections and use of either bulleted or numbered lists. The sections:

1.  Last Week's Accomplishments

2.  This Week's Goals

3.  Ongoing Projects

4.  Burning Questions / Issues

Status reports can be composed in a draft e-mail and edited during each week — a minute here, two minutes there — before sending to one's manager at week's end, or week's beginning, depending on your cycle. Whether written on desktop, laptop or iPhone, they're easily done. Best yet, next week's edition is already partially written as this week's goals become next week's accomplishments. Below is a sample status report.

Status Report Becomes Report Card for Accomplishments

There are many benefits that accrue to employees who generate weekly (or monthly) status reports. Consider the following:

  • When your manager leaves and a new manager arrives, there's a paper trail of your successes and progress.
  • During project post-mortems you can reconstruct timelines and identify where accounts succeeded or stalled, where resources were applied or drained.
  • You can track progress, document milestones and as a result, better gauge future time and resource projections from past status reports.
  • Your list of past accomplishments becomes your résumé's future bullets and dashes.
  • The discipline of weekly status reports helps you organize, focus and prioritize, leading to more sales and greater overall productivity.

The View from Above

Mike Faith, president and CEO of Headsets.com, explains: "As someone who approves pay rises, I know how much influence is gained by the employee who consistently pushes report information to me regularly. Not only do they avoid suffering from the ‘out of sight – out of mind’ syndrome, but I have an instant level of confidence that they’re active and performing."

Faith continues: "Conversely, when I have to chase round to find out what someone has been doing, they instantly get a one point downgrade in my mind." Faith, who founded Headsets.com in 1997, has built North America's leading provider of office telephone headsets.

Manage Yourself

Status Reports not only help your manager appreciate what you've done, but help you identify how you've been spending your time. According to Christine Danhakl, human resources manager for Hantel, a Life Science services company in Hayward CA: "When people tell me they don’t have enough time to work on their most important tasks, I ask them what they’re working on. Often, they discover they have been sidetracked by smaller or less important tasks. Status reports can help in keeping employees and their managers focused on the top priorities, and ensure that deadlines and milestones are being met."

Whether your supervisor requires a status report or not, invest in the time each week to generate yours. You will find your productivity, accountability and esteem will all rise, as will your own status at your next annual review.

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