Friday, July 12, 2019

Do You Have a Brag Folder?

The notion of a pure meritocracy is easy to believe in, to the point of delusion, when you're on the winning side. - Nancy Updike
You’ve probably accomplished lots over the past year and received praise from clients, coworkers, and management. You are also probably on an annual (or twice a year) review and bonus cycle. You and your manager are unlikely to remember everything you did since your last performance review, especially if your manager has changed. It’s worth keep a folder tracking all these things so you’re prepared for your self-evaluation and ready to help out your manager do their review. Keeping track of your accomplishments in a Brag Folder is good for everyone.
I first encountered a brag file when I had employees who came from one of the giant consultant companies. Their managers would have 50+ reports and so the culture made it the employee’s responsibility to demonstrate her performance and achievements to the manager and there was no expectation the manager paid any attention to employee performance throughout the year. When performance reviews came up for me and those few of employees sent an email saying, “I know performance reviews are coming up and I think this will be helpful in evaluating me” including a zip file of their brag folder, as a manager, it was amazingly helpful. What was in their files?
The Summary: Your career is a narrative. Each 6-12 months is a chapter. What was the plot of this chapter? What one thing did you improve on the most that you can tie into your activities and accomplishments? Did you up your game in client management, project management, software development, company contribution? That’s great for the summary to say it: Over the past six months I choose to focus on understand privacy and security. By taking online courses and making updates to our modules, I expanded my security expertise and am ready to help guide others.
Projects: This is pretty straight forward, but what projects did you work on? How did you personally contributed to those projects? Did your work make any impacts on Key Business Indicators (KPIs) or other measurable metrics?
Fuzzy Stuff: Companies like to see you invest in your team and your company. Did you help plan or attend social activities? Did you provide extra coverage so teammates could take time to do training, attend to personal obligations, or go on vacation? Did you refer an employee or help with interviews? List it, that’s great to show you’re a team player who benefits the company outside your day-to-day responsibilities.
Outside of Work: Did you go to networking events, have a blog, or do personal software work? If you can tie that into being a better employee, make sure to list it.
Recognition: Did you receive an email, phone call, slack from a client, coworker, or management recognizing a job well done or above and beyond performance? Save that exact document and include it.
As a manager (and employee) I’ve found receiving (and sending) these documents great. I’ve never been annoyed by an employee who sent it or had a manager tell me not to. Even if you feel your manager won’t be receptive to it you can still keep it to remind yourself at review time and if your manager changes on you the new one is going to be very receptive to getting it.