Your Weekly Status Report will Kill Your Personal Brand

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

May 20

We hate doing them – the dreaded weekly status report. Yet, the status report is a consistent sign of your work to management. Thus, the lowly status report becomes one of the most consistent implementations of your Personal Brand.

Is your brand all about delivery of the hard tasks, keeping projects on time and budget, and being a leader of a highly focused team? Oh, I do so love Corporate Speak…

Then why does your status report say this:

  • Attended meeting with PMO.
  • Worked on SDLC documentation.
  • Rewrote project plan based on PMO suggestions and updated guidelines.
  • Met with business on EDE Utility Rules for the SPN.

Delivery of hard tasks? Keeping projects on time and budget? Being a leader? Really?

Your status report will kill your Personal Brand, one week at a time.

If you think that this is not real, go get your last four weeks status reports and read them from the view of someone who knows nothing about what you do. Read them as if your manager two levels up were reading this status report and see if that person would understand what you were doing.

Then compare the statement with what you want your personal brand to represent. And if you think you don’t have a personal brand, well, yes you do. It’s reinforced by your lowly weekly status report.

You can tell I had my coffee this morning. You can see that status reports make me want to jump out at people and ask what they think they are doing.

So what do we do about building a status report that reflects your personal brand? Here are five needs:

  • Remove the acronyms. Period. Don’t have one acronym in the entire status report. If you have to say the EDE system, then spell it out: Electronic Decision Engine. Project Management Office. If your status report was read by a board member, would yours be able to be understood?
  • Activities mean nothing. Nothing. So don’t put them on the status report. You could have attended 20-meetings last week and no one above you in management will care. An activity is something you do, but businesses (and us) worry about results. The first time I did this rule with one of my new teams, more than one person asked if it was OK there was only one result on the status report. I said yes, but that should tell them something about how many results they are producing.
  • Start each line with an action verb. My favorite: delivered. “Delivered updated project status and budget to Project Management Office. Recommended changes approved by management.” “Attended meeting with PMO.” See the difference?
  • Meetings have deliverables – so state them. The purpose of a meeting is to reach conclusions about next actions or decisions made. (Your meetings do have conclusions, don’t they? OK, I won’t go there…). “Began work (an action verb) on delivering updated budget for next year from department meeting.” “Attended department meeting.” See the difference?
  • Be specific about what was delivered for the business. Whether you are directly talking to customers or are supporting your customers, you must tie your work with what it means to the business or department goals. Think of that Board member reading your status report – they will read your line and ask, “so what?” You must automatically answer the “so what” without asking. “Delivered 30% cycle-time reduction in the inventory delivery process through improvement project.” “Finished participation in the inventory project.” See the difference?

It’s not my intent to make up something out of nothing here through changing words. But, way too often, we shortchange our work by the way we describe the work in our status reports. Instead, let your status report be a shining example of your personal brand.

Now, go reread the first status report. Now read this one on the same four items:

  • Delivered updated project status and budget to Project Management Office. Recommended changes approved by management.
  • Completed phase II of the Inventory Project Systems Development Life Cycle documentation for presentation to Corporate auditors next week.
  • Delivered updated project plan for Inventory Project based on negotiated changes approved by the Project Management Office
  • Delivered initial business requirements for Simplified Planning Numbers product using the automated decision engine.

See the difference?

What are your favorite “action verbs?”


About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.