Are you the type of worker who shows up every day, works hard and feels like you contribute as much, if not more, than what is expected of you? If so, chances are you want to see your contributions recognized, especially financially.
What is the best way to tell your own personal success story without coming across as self-serving or money hungry? Consider creating your own personal accomplishments list that identifies and quantifies your contribution to the team.
Armed with this information, you or your manager can prove how worthwhile you are to the organization and state a meaningful case for that raise you so deserve.
How your boss can make a case for you
In his corporate working days, my father was a manager of a team at a Fortune 20 company. He always stood up for his team and knew who his best employees were, but admitted that he rarely remembered all that they accomplished throughout the year.
It’s hard enough to remember everything we have personally accomplished so it’s understandable that he simply couldn’t remember the details of each of his employee’s contributions to the team.
To amplify this, he worked in an environment where at the end of the year, employees were statistically grouped into low, average, and high performers. Pay was impacted by this grouping. Once a year, he sat in a room with peers and made a case for each of his employees.
While he had the best of intentions for his employees, things occasionally got heated during these discussions, as they often do when money is involved. He needed something to make his case stronger.
Making the case count
So he could present a better case on behalf of his employees to upper management, he asked each of his employees to compile a list of their annual accomplishments. The list was due to him by the first week of January.
This accomplishments list gave him the ammunition he needed to keep his star players out of the low and medium pay buckets.
Not only did he look out for his employees, my father taught me to do the same. He told me it's good for your boss to know about your contributions throughout the year.
I’ve carried this important lesson throughout my career. As I moved between jobs, I annually gave my boss a list of my accomplishments.
As a manager of a team, I request that each team member build out their accomplishments. Doing so gives me a healthy understanding of what my team has done and starts a conversation with others about my team’s exceptional performance and make a cases for continued advancement.
Here’s the thing, not only do I get to make a case for my and my team’s continued advancement, but there are ancillary benefits to going through this exercise.
First, my confidence has increased over the course of my career as I meaningfully quantify my contributions to the business. Doing so has enabled me to show more composure and make a difference in my work.
Another benefit was that this exercise helped me to build bullet points for my resume and LinkedIn profile, creating richer opportunities for me in the present and future.
Lastly, doing so has created more talking points when meeting new people and networking. In writing down my accomplishments, I was able to network more effectively and clearly communicate my value to anyone who inquired.
And for my team, they became more vocal, more in control of their career, and approached their work with a stronger, more confident point of view. Their engagement made the team perform even better than they had before. Priceless.
5 key components for your accomplishments list
It’s not as simple as just writing down a bunch of things on paper. A method to the madness exists and by following these four key steps, you can create a meaningful and powerful case for why you, as an employee, have exceeded expectations.
- Write down every task you've done in the year.
This activity gets you to think about all the things you’ve done throughout the year, big and small. Putting everything down on paper will help you later pick out the items that are key contributions. Look at your archived to-do lists, notebooks, and even meeting calendar to jog your memory.
- Group those tasks into main projects or performance indicators.
A difference exists between basic responsibilities and true accomplishments. You are expected to perform a certain level of basic functions as an employee.
When building accomplishments instead of responsibilities, ask these questions: What did you do that was over and above your basic responsibilities? What did you do that had a direct impact on the company’s bottom line? What did you do better than anyone else?
Once you’ve identified the main accomplishments you’ve performed, quantify, if possible, the effect your accomplishment had for the company. For example, if through better workflow you were able to do a certain task in half the time as it took before, you’ve now become 50% more efficient. That is a direct number that affects the company’s bottom line.
- Map those grouped tasks beside the key responsibilities from your job description.
When you applied for your job, you had a list of job related duties that you would be responsible to perform. Create a chart with two columns. On the left side, write your various job responsibilities, each in their own box. Then, on the right side, match the accomplishment (and its effect on the business) with the specific job duty to show how you met and exceed expectations.
- Make your accomplishments SMART.
The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Don’t say you accomplished “a lot of things;” be specific! Show very specific examples of where you affected the company’s bottom line and any statistics you can showcase will help state your case.
Anytime you can show you made the company “X” amount of money, saved them “X” amount of resources or used “X%” less time than before, these are all trackable ways the company can attribute gains directly back to you. Be sure what you are claiming is realistic and accurate; never claim credit for more than you actually accomplished.
Finally, discuss what your timeframe was for completing that accomplishment. Adding the time component ties everything together.
- Identify the areas you want to grow in the following year.
Ultimately, there will be one or two job responsibilities that weren’t developed quite as well as the others over the previous year. State how you will focus on those areas in the next year.
Create a bulleted list that identifies no more than three areas for development, then specific ways you will grow in that capacity in the following year. For example, if you want to enhance your public speaking skills, state how and what you can speak about during specific meeting opportunities at your company. Or, join a toastmasters or volunteer group to increase and enhance your public speaking abilities.
Creating this detailed accomplishments chart will take some time and effort. You’ll need to remember exactly what you did, and when. That’s why it’s a great idea to keep detailed notes throughout the year so this end of year exercise becomes much easier to create. Often times, I’ve broken this exercise down into monthly or quarterly exercises to compile accomplishments multiple times throughout the year.
Our team creates a weekly list of goals they want to accomplish each week, and they save their lists for this purpose at year’s end. Having this information makes this task significantly easier, quicker and more thorough.
If all else fails, ask your manager for their feedback. They may think of something you completely forgot. This end of year gift to yourself and your boss will provide you both with a reminder of your all-star status.