If you’re like many in the workplace, you rank writing a status report right up there with activities like going to the dentist and filing taxes. It’s something that’s got to be done, but you keep your expectations for enjoying the process, well, modest.
What if there were an easy, organized way to write not only a good status report, but a better status report? And to do it quickly?
There is. Here’s how:
1. Think in terms of your boss’s busy schedule
Why are you reading this how-to article? It’s to quickly glean what you need from it, right? Your boss will do the same. So, to write a better status report, adhere to the principle of keeping your report simple and brief and confined to one page. Write it to the requested length, and no longer.
2. Focus on results
If you’ve achieved successes on a project, cite them. But be sparring in discussing all the work that you put into achieving your results. A better status report reflects how your having hit a milestone — by installing, say, a new billing system — has not only accelerated payments to the company, but freed up staff in accounting to perform other projects.
3. Use graphics to illustrate gains
Since you installed that new billing system, has the company’s operating income significantly grown or even spiked from one month or quarter to the next? if yes, show that by constructing a simple bar graph. A quick visual can make your point.
4. Include a brief summary at the top of your report.
A better status report starts with a concise narrative — one that’s made up of just two or three sentences — that sums up key points.
5. Think towards the future — in your head or on a separate piece of paper.
After reading your better status report, your boss may have follow-up questions. Be prepared to consider what they might be, and do a little research so you can have ready responses in hand. But these responses can be delivered in conversation or via email — they don’t have to go into your brief, one-page status report.