Let’s face it. How many times have you done something that you swear you’ll remember but it completely slips your mind just days later?
This happens all the time when it comes to your job achievements. While it may be somewhat easier to remember key milestones for major projects you have accomplished, sometimes the more nuanced and “behind-the-scene” work falls through the crack.
Think of all those times where a work day just flies by and you have an extremely difficult time what you actually did. If you have a hard time remember what you did yourself, how do you think your manager will remember your contributions? If you were the manager, how are you going to differentiating promoting one guy from the next?
When you are working towards building a career at a company, you are not there for free.
You want to be compensated for all the value-added work you are doing, and you need to showcase them front and center.
This is where the “bragging” comes in.
While the term ‘bragging’ might be viewed as ugly, in the working world a well-placed statement of your achievements can get your boss to notice you and is therefore a vital part of climbing up the career ladder. In this article, we’ll be exploring how and why to keep a “brag document” in order to get your achievements noticed.
1) Getting Recognized: Why You Should Write A “Brag Document”
While it would be nice if people had the innate ability to ‘tune in’ to the achievements of others and reward them accordingly, sadly this rarely happens.
More frustratingly, it may seem that the achievements of some are much more likely to be picked up on than others.
This is rarely down to the bias of your boss but simply comes down to the fact that success in some roles are far more noticeable or quantifiable than others.
While you may think that being humble and keeping your head down will eventually reap rewards, this is rarely the case. You need to be proactive which is where this nifty little trick comes in!
Keeping a ‘brag document’ of your achievements doesn’t just benefit your career progression, it also helps you to reflect upon your progress and refocus your efforts within areas of improvement.
Time is a funny thing, sometimes it flies by and other times it stands still.
Over time the brain deletes pieces of information it no longer views as useful, such as small wins, or subtle improvements over several months. This can often leave you pondering on what you actually did last week, last month, or last year.
This can be demotivating and can leave you doubting your abilities. People often wrongly think that only big achievements matter, but, consistent small achievements over time are usually far more valuable to a business.
These achievements show that you don’t just appear when it’s time to close a big deal or make an important presentation, but that you’re diligently working each and every day and doing your part to make the company a success.
Your Manager Forgot!
Your manger is in charge of a whole team of people, and if you struggle to remember your own achievements, you certainly can’t expect your manager to remember the individual achievements of a whole group of people; they’re only human after all.
Good managers will always be looking to champion and build up their team members, but they can’t do this if they aren’t reminded of the great work that you’ve done.
2) Writing a “Brag Document”
A ‘brag document’ is simply a term we’ve coined for a document that outlines and lists your daily accomplishments.
It’s quite simple. Instead of trying to remember every little detail of your achievements, write it down.
Your ‘brag document’ works as an achievement diary where you can write the day and your achievements for that date. It gives you a quantifiable way to measure your achievements and an accurate way to recount them to your boss. If the term ‘brag document’ doesn’t sit well with you, then you could call this document your ‘achievement log’ or even ‘hype document’.
Share Your Brag Document (With your Manager)
Of course, your brag document is little more than a motivational diary if you don’t share it with your boss.
Now, the thought of doing this can be daunting or awkward but you’d be surprised.
Many managers actually appreciate this direct approach. Most managers want to be able to champion their staff members; after all your achievements reflect well on them too.
An achievement-based document can also be really helpful for managers when it comes time to write performance reviews too as you’re helping them to give a more accurate statement on your skills.
Making sure your manager has a copy of your achievement log will also mean they can serve as a true advocate for you in meetings and reviews.
This could lead to your name being brought up when discussions on promotion vacancies or employee awards arise. It also allows your manager to field you work and tasks best suited to your skill set allowing you to excel and increasing overall team efficiency.
Going through your brag document with your manager can also be a great activity and can really help you to maximize your career satisfaction. By reviewing your document you can tell your manager what you’re good at and what you’d like to do more of and they can assign you more work that fits these criteria. This allows you to set meaningful goals that increase your productivity which not only benefits your self-esteem but the productiveness of your coworkers and the proficiency of your manager.
Share your Document (With Peer Reviewers)
If your place of work does peer reviews then make sure the person reviewing you has access to your document.
This will allow them to give an accurate review of your skills and progress; and they’ll also thank you for making their job a little easier.
Show Others the Bigger Picture
Aside from a useful tool to chronicle your achievements, a brag document can show others the bigger picture of your job role.
It shows where your true passions and focus lies in regards to your field.
For example: your achievements may show a greater focus on providing project security, or planning.
You may want to organize your brag document in sections that focus on the different areas of your work. This will allow your colleagues and your manager to see the areas of your work you achieve most in. This will also allow you to be objective as you can easily see the areas that you thrive in compared to others which can allow you to improve in your weaker areas.
3) The Brag Document As A Form Of Self-Improvement
A well-formulated brag document can be a valuable tool not just for your colleagues and managers but for yourself too.
Filling out your document causes you to reflect and make assessments on your performance. This is a great practice to uphold because this allows you to view your own performance both critically and objectively and allows you to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.
To help use your brag document as a critical thinking tool you can ask yourself the following questions when filling it out:
What work do I feel the proudest of?
Do these projects have a running theme that I can capitalize upon as a strength?
What’s the bigger picture of my work?
Does my best work have a specific focus (such as teaming working, security, etc)?
What about my work do I not enjoy or wish I could do less?
Which of my projects had outcomes I was satisfied with? Why was this and why were other projects less successful?
What could I improve on in future projects?
Write it Gradually or All at Once
You don’t have to be a slave to your brag document either!
Some people find that they enjoy 5 minutes of reflecting at the end of the day while others prefer to do this on a weekly or monthly basis.
Don’t leave it too long between entries, however, as you’ll likely start to forget some important achievements which will defeat the purpose of the document in the first place.
Fuzzy Projects Are Important Projects!
What exactly are ‘fuzzy projects’ and why are they so important?
Well, fuzzy projects are those that are tricky to quantify, are rare occurrences, or sit slightly outside your usual job role.
For example, building a fair interview process is a procedure that likely only needs doing and reviewing once every year or so, the same as implementing a peer review system.
These projects can be hard to reflect upon and are ‘fuzzy’ in nature because they tend to present unique challenges that may be difficult to explain. However, the unique challenges that fuzzy projects can present may lead to some great achievements so writing them in your brag document is important!
Don’t Be Afraid to Share your Achievements With Others
You may even want to get a group together every few weeks to discuss achievements and pool wisdom.
Discussions like this can work great as bonding exercises and can lead to a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of everyone on your team. You’ll also find talking about your achievements makes it easier for you to write them up in your document too.
You don’t even have to share with the people in your office, you could have these discussions with friends and business contacts from around the world thanks to the wonders of modern technology.
While sharing your achievements may be uncomfortable at first, you’ll actually find that over time it becomes both a positive and beneficial experience.
It gives you a chance to form closer bonds with your co-workers and help you know your colleagues are on your side as you celebrate the little victories and big wins together.
You may even find that your workmates start to highlight when you’ve done good work even if you haven’t realized it yourself.
Remember, achievements are all relative. What someone else might be naturally adept at and be able to do easily it make take you months of years to master. This doesn’t make your achievement any less than anyone else’s and you should make sure to take the time to both recognize and celebrate a job well done.
Brag documents can be a great way to log your day-to-day wins and can be a useful tool for sharing with your manager or discussing with your friends and colleagues.
In fact, if you read this article and think a brag document is perfect for your workspace, why not ask your workmates to get involved too?
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