How can a brag list improve your performance? In an ideal world, everyone has your achievements at the top of their mind. In your performance review, your manager knows all the good things you did during the year. As a result, he or she will reward you accordingly. In a more realistic world, this is not always the case.
The expectation that everyone remembers every good thing you did is unrealistic. People forget things. Even managers who are there to review you. Maybe some of the things you did were not as visible as others. To help you make sure your good deeds do not go unnoticed, we have the brag list.
What is a brag list?
A brag list is a document where you keep track of all the good things you did. The name sort of explains it, it contains all the things you can brag about. The list can be in any format you want. From my personal experience, I noticed I found it useful to include the date, a title, and a short summary of my role. As a result, I find it easier to remember the details at the end of the year.
The first time I heard about a brag list was from a coworker. He was using this to keep track of all the things he did during the year. And as a result, he could always summarize pretty well his year-round performance.
To make sure you will not forget to add things to your list, make it a regular activity. In the same way as a retrospective, it is satisfying to stop and reflect on the last period. You can make it a recurring calendar event to update your brag list every two weeks. Or whatever period works for you.
Some examples that could be on a brag list:
- Mentorred an intern.
- Fixed a big security issue.
- Help team X when their project was in need.
- Fixed that important production incident.
All humans are influenced by recency bias. As a result, we will favor recent events over historical events.
If your performance is only reviewed once or twice a year like mine. You are likely to experience recency bias. As a result, your manager will probably not remember what you did at the beginning of the year. But he is able to recall current events. To make sure you don’t lose out on these events, keep your brag list up to date. In the period before your review send it to your manager to remind him or her of all your good things during the year.
Another benefit of having a brag list is to remind yourself of all the awesome things you did. Just like your manager, you will likely suffer from recency bias. I sometimes look at my brag list, and all of a sudden remember the awesome things I did months ago. As a result of recency bias, I already forgot about those achievements.
A brag list can be a great way to remind yourself of all the positive things you did. Use it during your performance review to make sure your manager knows as well. You deserve it after all! Did you already use a brag list, or did this post convince you to start one? Let me know in the comments below.
This blog post was inspired by the Brag document by Julia Evans. In case you are not already following her, I would recommend giving her a follow!