Let’s play “What would you do?” Say your closest friend at work asked you for help with her annual self-review. She is having difficulty writing about her accomplishments during the past year. What would you do? Would you say “Girl, I have no idea what you’ve done this year.” Or would you say “I got you! Remember last quarter when you increased our organic search traffic by 25%? And what about the Black Friday campaign results?”
Most women are terrific at encouraging and praising peers (That is a blog for another time. Women supporting women is always the way to go) but we aren’t so great at broadcasting our own triumphs. According to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, women without fail scored their performance on a test lower than men did. On average, men rated themselves 61 out of 100, while women only rated themselves 46 out of 100. Even when told an employer would use their ratings to determine if they would hire them and how much to pay them, the women still rated themselves less than the men. Why do we do that?
Right now, let’s talk about strategies to collect evidence and backup materials that will help you communicate your performance and accomplishments when needed.
Why Should I Document My Performance?
Who else will? It’s up to you to show your worth. You won’t get what you want if you don’t prepare your case. A list of recent successes can support your request for a raise or a promotion. It can help convince your superiors to assign you a new project or initiative. These same accomplishments should also make it onto your resume when you’re looking for a new job. If you are a business owner, your list can help you find new clients or customers. This list should also help you overcome any imposter syndrome you may be feeling. The proof that you are awesome is right there in front of you.
What Should I Collect?
You could collect complimentary emails or memos from clients, colleagues, and superiors. Keep any reports or financial documents outlining project achievements. Collect documents that highlight goals you’ve achieved. Keep prior performance reviews. Note educational or work-related training courses you’ve completed. Keep any relevant content you’ve created like white papers or articles. You can also create proof of your capabilities by asking for stretch goals or new assignments and documenting your progress.
Ask your work bestie to be your success partner. Promise to hold each other accountable for not only recognizing and documenting your triumphs but also celebrating them.
Ask your superiors what they would consider important details to track. Their focus may be on customer retention rather than actual financials, or it could be the other way around. Knowing what decision-makers are looking for will help you understand what to document.
How Should I Do It?
Here are some simple strategies to use daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The cadence of the collection is up to you, as long as you do it consistently.
- Create an “Impact” list in Word and save it to your desktop. Rather than a To-Do list, this is a list of all important projects and tasks you’ve completed, along with any pertinent results.
- Create a special email folder to collect any positive emails you receive from superiors, colleagues, customers, or clients.
- Record achievements on your calendar. This could be your Outlook or Google calendar, a calendar app, or a traditional calendar. Use the calendar that you look at every day. That will help to remind you to do it.
- Keep a handwritten journal. The task of documenting your achievements may feel so personal that a “Dear Diary” approach is appropriate. There is something special about putting pen to paper. Make sure to include dates, names, quotes, and other pertinent details.
- Keep your resume up to date, even if you are not looking for a job. This is a great place to highlight important metrics and KPIs. Don’t forget to add awards, licensures, and education.
- Update your LinkedIn profile. Just like your resume, this is a tool that will help you keep track of successes and also help you connect with potential partners, clients, employees, etc. Aside from resume items, you can also post content you’ve created and use the engagement with that content as another success.
- Use a notes app on your phone. Your phone is always within reach. Keep a running list of your accomplishments on the app with dates and details. OneNote and Evernote are two alternatives if you want an app that offers other functions like email and calendars.
- Write a monthly or quarterly report for your manager. Be proactive by offering an updated report of the work you’ve done and the successes you’ve had, highlighting how you’ve contributed to the company’s bottom line.
Free Tools to Get You Started
If you are going the digital route for your documentation, there are plenty of online tools to help you create an impactful achievement portfolio.
- Canva is a fun online design platform. It is super easy to use and there are a ton of templates to get you started. You can create an online calendar to document your successes or make a presentation to show your boss. There is a pretty extensive free version available for individuals, small businesses, and nonprofits.
- Infogram is similar to Canva but it specializes in infographics. Infographics are a graphical way to show your progression on a project or a bunch of related data points. You could also use this free platform to create a graphic-focused chart, report, or slide show. There are also paid versions if you would like more templates and functionality.
- Monday.com is a project management tool. If you think of recording your successes as a project, this is the tool for you. You can set goals, strategize how you will achieve those goals, track the tasks you need to take, and track your achievements when you make them.
- Journey Cloud is an online journal, diary, motivational coach, and happiness trainer. You can record your achievements in journal entries or on a calendar, upload relevant photos, and learn through guided programs from various life coaches. It’s the melding of self-care and work successes you didn’t know you needed.
No matter what strategy you use, take action starting today to document the terrific work you do. I know it’s uncomfortable to toot your own horn, but it is crucial that you do so if you want to succeed in your career or business. The more you track your achievements throughout the year, the easier it will be to share them when you need to.