I don’t keep a brag document but I do keep a folder called People where there are folders for the people I’ve helped and subfolders for each problem they’ve come to me with. On one hand it’s useful because I can recycle the code but it also helps track how I’ve spent my time. I also tried to keep a diary but this was less successful.
I learned the hard way that being helpful is not always recognised, in fact I’ve had one manager openly hostile to the idea even if that meant the project would fail, it annoyed the hell out of me. (This manager came back from his MBA promoting a Whiplash approach to management and told us to actively ‘destroy’ the other teams in our company so there you go.) This was part of the reason I moved back to academia, now my job is to help young engineers be the best they can.
Regarding teaching, my exhaustion with an over dependence on PowerPoint for every aspect of communication in industry has me rebuilding an introductory fluid mechanics course in Jupyter with high quality visuals (images and videos) illustrating important concepts along side simple but useful code examples.
The challenge is that many of the students really don’t have the first clue how to really use a computer so getting them to install Python, Scipy and Jupyter is a big ask. They’ve barely scratched the surface with Matlab, and I’ve been told that many of them struggle to understand a desktop file system.
Github will render the notebooks and they can copy the URL to Google colab should they wish to interact with the code. And of course there are detailed instructions for installing the required tools (and I’m keeping them to a minimum) on Windows/Mac/Linux for those who have an interest.
The notebooks will also be available as embedded HTML so all the videos, images and interactive 3D models will just work on whatever device they have.
The idea is to present half the course in this new way and the remainder in the old way (PowerPoint with redacted equations the students spend their time carefully copying down and not paying real attention to the discussion). After the first year I’ll collate the exam results and student feedback and publish a paper in some teaching and learning journal to share my findings. Hopefully the response is positive, I’ve put a lot of work into replacing a lot of terse and often abstract PowerPoint with engaging and detailed content, in particular I’m really proud of some of the Blender animations I’ve made using FLIP fluids to illustrate key concepts such as viscosity and surface tension.
A previous job had "monthly" ad hoc desk demos to show off whatever we were working on to our tech lead. Since I can barely remember what I did yesterday if my life depended on it, this became a monthly "crawl p4 history and summarize for myself to summarize for others" routine.
And of course, it's hard to demo when you've just broken your local checkout. Or touched a common header and need an hour to finish recompiling the entire codebase. And waiting around all day being conservative with my changes - or multiple days, in the event of delays or rescheduling - feels like wasted time.
Slap some screenshots, gifs, or video on an internal wiki and bam - even if you can't demo in realtime because you broke something or are compiling, you can still demo. And now you can share it with coworkers who want to build upon your work, use your tools, etc. as a very easy way to see exactly where you've hidden the new feature in whatever bespoke thing you're doing!
Video games? Or just a large enterprise org?
I just went through and created a brag document for myself. While I'm not sure I'd show it to my manager, it certainly helped my work get recognized by me. There are a lot of days where I feel I haven't gotten a lot done, and those tend to overshadow the days I feel productive. Looking back on the past seven months, I was actually shocked to see how much I've accomplished. I'm going to try and keep up with this on a monthly basis, because at the very least it gave my mental health and confidence a little boost.
I pretty quickly noticed two things. First, I personally find this really motivating. For no one other than myself, I want to have a satisfying list at the end of the day. Second, neither I nor my boss are going to find this level of detail useful in a year. You need some way of aggregating (as the article mentions) “the big picture” over time. I’ve started using an app to help hierarchically aggregate these notes per time period, and it’s super useful.
Unfortunately, it’s not in a shareable state yet, but maybe one day. :)
>neither I nor my boss are going to find this level of detail useful in a year.
Actually, if you include copious screenshots, you might find it useful forever! You could just change your text, to make your screenshots talk about whatever you wanted to show. Maybe a UX flow observation or suggested change. Maybe you want to show a UI inconsistency. Or you want to showcase a theme change between two major versions or when changing some front-end component. Regardless of why you originally prepared the screenshots, a picture says a thousand words.
If you want to make your writing perennial, try adding screenshots!
If nothing else it will have historical importance.
I too have trouble saying "no" when someone asks me to help out, and I decided to keep track of all the things I do that I think add value, but more importantly (along some dimensions), things that the people asking me to help value. I started doing this after I realised that there's lots of stuff that I take for granted, but that other people find incredibly useful because they're simply unfamiliar with the domain or technology in question.
I do have the benefit of some relatively trusted senior leadership though, who help me to summarise and focus this list towards the end of the year so that I don't end up emphasising the wrong things as part of my year-end summary.
Every quarter, bonuses were paid based on how much love you got. It wasn’t much on average if I recall but it was a nice addition to the recognition.
I send my manager a list of all the things I worked on each day, usually 5-10 items with no expectation of reply or action. Usually takes me no more than 3-4 minutes to write.
This gives him visibility into my day and keeps him in the loop without the overhead of scheduling a daily sync or 1:1. You can also use them as input into a brag doc or the like as well.
You can forward a "Thank you!" note from a customer, a "Well done!" from a manager or email yourself if you do something you are particularly proud of.
This also helps tailor understanding for what the engineers are keen on doing / accomplishing.
Now I’ve started moving them to a “done” list, with a date and photos. It’s not a panacea, but it feels really good and helps build motivation when I review that list and watch it grow.
I believe recognition/praise/rewards/etc are not conducive to lasting satisfaction. They feel good for a while, but wear off quickly. OTOH, choosing not to pursue these things is very liberating, and helps you detach your satisfaction from things outside your control.
It depends on what you want. Satisfaction and peace of mind, or an endless chase for the next reward/recognition/promotion/raise/etc? If the latter, than it’s very important to be effective at getting your work recognized. But if the former, why bother?
If you don't mean it literally, there's no reason to conjure up an "elite" spectre and create a false argument against that to engage with the gp.
Source: This happened to me several months ago. It was very distressing for my wife and I.
Additionally, being respected by your managers isn’t just about a better salary. It is about having more power to choose tasks you want to do.
In the long run, a strong reputation (caused by this recongition) generally gives you more influence, flexibility and autonomy; and it's well-researched that those factors improve job satisfaction.
It’s also not sustainable for me to eat at fancy restaurants for every meal, but that doesn’t mean I need to avoid ever eating at fancy restaurants. It means I should account for multiple sources of food.
We're thinking about building something like this for people to track personal growth more easily at Progression . Thinking nice pretty exports, benchmarking, all sorts of other stuff too.
Genuine request, if anyone does this regularly I'd love to speak to you.
The sad truth is hardly anyone truly cares what you are doing at work. Really, think about how much you truly care what your peers do day-to-day.
Your boss and co-workers care about:
b) not having to deal with bad/negative/pita personalties
c) avoiding crisis
Pull your weight, be helpful, and if you have a boss micromanaging you it’s time to update the resume, not do more work to justify your existence.
I think this is exactly wrong. This kind of response is what people often fear when it comes to self-promotion. And it certainly may be what you fear (but I’m not you so I can’t say for sure), but I can assure you (and others out there) that it is not desperate to look after your interests and make sure the hard work you do - visible and invisible - gets recognized.
What I think you’re saying is addressed by the author in her post - that good work will automatically be recognized on its merits alone and that it’s desperate to go above and beyond that.
And in many companies this is the case (and has been since work began). But the author’s whole point is that it is actually ok - and not desperate - to make sure your work gets recognized outside the scope of the normal “big projects get visibility” way things often work out.
Besides that, it's also a good reminder for your own self to recap the work you've done in a specific period of time, notice your growth (or lack of any growth), etc. I've personally seen pretty good results with a similar approach.
Right, which is exactly why, when it comes time for the 2x-yearly performance review, its important to be able to talk about what you've been doing for the past year. Otherwise, people haven't necessarily noticed the results you've achieved or the crisis you've proactively avoided.
You'll probably agree that it's valuable to you for your immediate and upper management to understand what you do for them, why it benefits the company and makes them look good, and why you're incredibly great at it. If they understand this in a deep way, they're much more likely to respect your opinion and work to keep you happy.
It'd be nice if you could just keep your head down, work hard, and expect management to notice that you're doing great and important work. But that will never happen. They're busy people. They don't really understand what you're doing and struggling with, or why you're doing it this way versus that way.
So it's up to you to educate them. You can tell your story better than anyone else, because you're the only one who really knows it...
It seems that the term "brag document" is only used as clickbait.
Edit: yes the article says it, but the title does not
Where I work we call this a “brag document” but I’ve heard other names for the same concept like “hype document” or “list of stuff I did” :).