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Control the Message: What does your boss think that you do?

If you have a job, then I highly recommend that you produce a weekly status report. Not a full ‘status report’ per se, but a brief email with 3 – 6 bullets outlining your recent accomplishments and a preview of what you will be working on next week.
Here’s the logic: If you have a job — working for anyone but yourself — then you have a boss to whom you report. And if you have a boss, then on a regular basis, people will ask that boss, “What is <Your Name Here> working on?” In fact, your boss will occasionally ponder this question himself even without being asked. Do not leave your boss’ answer to chance.
Instead, plant the seeds for what is top-of-mind for your boss. By delivering an easy-to-remember, end-of-the-week, one-email-screen, status report, your boss won’t have to make up an answer when pondering what you are working on. Even better, your boss won’t ever have a moment when they realize that they don’t know what you are working on.
Avoid the temptation to provide a lot of detail — your boss can circle back later if they need more information. This is a talking points memo, not a manifesto. And it’s not a bad idea to distribute your little ‘status report’ to anyone you consider a stakeholder, including anyone who might have an interest in your work and your career.
What do you think? Do you currently produce a regular status report? Has it served you well?

This article first appeared in The Week Ahead #47, my weekly newsletter that serves as a metronome for the rhythm of our work lives. Sign up for yourself and you won’t miss another keen insight.

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