What Your Boss Actually Wants to Know

Successful Business Meeting

You walk into your monthly status meeting, confident in all you accomplished over the past few weeks. Your supervisor sits in front of you and asks “anything to report?” You start listing the dozens of documents you’ve helped with. Your supervisor nods and accepts your answer, but what he was really looking for was this:

“How did you bring value to the company?”

While a list of a dozen or so documents helps to illustrate the volume of work, quantifiable metrics are the way to show your supervisor (and yourself) just how much you accomplished.

In your position, you should have a way to track your tasks. Project, SharePoint, or just plain old Excel can be the answer. Whatever you use, make sure you track this:

  1. What document was it? Was it a memo? User manual? Procedure?
  2. What role did you play? Did you review it? Author it? What was your goal?
  3. Who was the point of contact? Who owns the document? Who did you interact with to complete the project?
  4. How many pages was the final product? Were these large undertakings, or just quick edits?
  5. Date assigned. When were you formally tasked and able to begin work?
  6. Date due. When did the owner absolutely need it by?
  7. Date completed. When did the owner give approval of your final submission?

Now the next time you supervisor asks “anything to report?” you can clearly identify:

  1. Any high-profile or unique documents you worked on.
  2. Any high-profile personnel you helped.
  3. Any large documents that impacted your bandwidth.
  4. Any deadlines made, missed, or in jeopardy.

These facts mean something to your supervisor (and to you!). You show your value through the significant documents you assisted with, the important personnel who trust you, the volume of work you can complete, and the level of service you can provide. The longer you keep these metrics, the more they support your significance. So start them early, and update them often, and see where the knowledge takes you.

About the Author
Greta Boller is a technical writer located in the Washington, D.C. area. For more information, please visit .

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2 thoughts on “What Your Boss Actually Wants to Know

  1. Larry Kunz July 1, 2015 / 12:02 PM

    Thanks, Greta. Those are useful things to track, but they’re still one level of abstraction away from the real question: “How did you bring value to the company?” In other words, how did your work affect the bottom line, either by increasing revenue or reducing costs?

    Of course, that’s easy for me to say but hard to measure. Nevertheless, when reporting our monthly status, I firmly believe we should have our antennae up so that we can report anything we’ve done that helped close a sale, prevent a tech-support call, and so forth — in addition to reporting the things you listed.

    You might enjoy Sharon Burton’s series, What Do We Measure in Tech Comm?, the second installment of which she just published.

    Like

    • gretaboller July 1, 2015 / 12:27 PM

      Hi, Larry. Thanks for your thoughts!

      I agree, the idea of value does not stop at metrics. However, it’s an excellent place to start, especially for those who are new(er) to the field and are unclear how to articulate such a concept.

      Metrics are the window through which we see the change around us. By keeping up with the basic information, our antennae can become better tuned to recognize trends and tendencies. Over time, we learn little by little how to be more proactive. That’s when technical writers become super heroes.

      Thanks again for your thoughts and for the suggested read! I’m always looking for more articles exploring the world of tech comm.

      Like

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