By: Stefanie Smith
Do you want to get promoted, energize your job, or get a raise?
Your best tactic isn't glamorous and it doesn't require any major training. But it will heighten your boss's appreciation of you today and establish your track record through future upswings and downturns.
Enough suspense. Here it is: Writing a biweekly or monthly "executive briefing"—or if you prefer, "executive update," can not only protect your job, but enhance your status.
Perhaps you're thinking "I already work really hard, with too little appreciation. Are you really telling me to add one more task to my already full plate? Yes, I am.
There are five substantial benefits for you:
Still in doubt? Here's a true story:
"Linda" is an extremely dedicated and talented executive assistant to the CEO of a Fortune 100 company. While reviewing the scope of her work, I asked if the CEO was duly impressed with her ability to manage so many projects across budgets, reports, event planning, and working with regulators. Her priceless response:"My boss knows what I do—he just doesn't know all I do."
Based on our initial discussions, Linda realized she wasn't aware of all she did either. Her role had expanded over decades, but over 24 years, neither her title nor her position description had ever changed.
I asked how she kept the CEO updated on the breadth of activities she oversaw. She initially informed me, in a somewhat patronizing manner "He is a very busy man and doesn't have time for details."
She listened attentively about the value of status reports, but remained skeptical and apprehensive. But after she logged few weeks of notes, we defined six broad categories of her work and created an outline. She then submitted the first status report ever—after 24 years on the executive floor.
The CEO's response? A special trip to her office to say, "This is a lot of work, and we should schedule time to review." Linda proudly told me that simple statement was the greatest recognition she'd ever received. That's when she came to understand why even if she executed everything to perfection, her boss still benefited from knowing about her accomplishments.
Using her status reports as a basis, we developed an accurate and comprehensive job description. We then began the formal HR process to upgrade her position. After the review, she received a new title—"Director of Administration and Budget"-with a professional level designation. Beyond the salary increase, her promotion entitles her to training, stock options, and other benefits which she had deserved for years. Furthermore, she is now in a position to train others to assume some of her functions so she can concentrate on delivering her highest value to the CEO, shareholders, and her department. Everyone is better off.
What will your status report look like?
Keep the process as fast and easy as possible. Your report should be a bullet point list of key accomplishments and questions sent via e-mail. The entire document should be no more than one or two pages.
Facilitate reading and response through format and structure.
Cater to your audience. Ask your boss for direction regarding:
How do I start?
The first report may take you awhile to compose. You'll probably experience some resistance; you may worry that you won't be able to write something compelling enough. However, you'll become more adept and efficient as you add to your upcoming status reports over time. You'll have a template to follow. You'll learn to summarize in bullet points, rather than paragraphs. Knowing the main categories in advance expedites and facilitates both writing and reading status reports. There is no need to come up with creative formats or presentations each time.
PROCESSING, PLEASE WAIT...