From time to time, while working on a project, you will be asked to provide a progress report. You may react in a wide range of ways to this request, depending on your experience with such reports – you could be ready to provide it ASAP or be totally confused and not know where to start. Well, no matter what your case is, you now have this simple, yet comprehensive guide that will help you take care of your progress report at any time.
Employee Progress Report in a Nutshell
First of all, you have to understand what a progress report is. Basically, it is exactly what it seems to be like, when you read the words “progress report” – it is a document that includes all the details of how far you have progressed towards your project’s completion.
Progress report outlines your activities, completed tasks and the reached milestones on a particular project you are working on. Usually, this document is written for a supervisor or manager, colleagues or even clients. Progress reports could be written by you personally to outline your own progress or they can be made by a team on behalf of its entire work progress on a given project.
Depending on the project’s complexity and scope, you could have to provide a progress report on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, for example, or for each quarter project milestone for that matter. You should be prepared that your career is going to involve quite a few reports of this kind. At some point you may even realize that creating them may require more time than the actual work.
So, Why Employee Progress Reports Are That Important?
At times, it may seem that providing a detailed report regarding your progress is unnecessary, especially if you have been keeping your manager or supervisor up to date on a regular basis and have been in contact with your teammates or client throughout the project’s course. The truth is, these reports are rather valuable for a number of reasons.
They Help Keeping Everyone on the Same Page
Every person receiving a report copy will be up to date with what has already been accomplished on the project. This helps avoid tons of confusion regarding things that have been done or that still have to be catered to.
They Promote Collaboration
Employee progress reports are particularly significant, when different teams work on the same project. Being aware of what the other team (or teams) are doing helps avoiding task redundancy and isolation. Plus, this way one team can see, where it could provide assistance to others or even team up with them.
They Provide Better Accountability and Transparency
When submitting a progress report, an employee places on record that they have completed a task or provided an explanation as to why their results didn’t meet the expectations. After the document’s acceptance, it essentially becomes official documentation of the project. Thus, if needed at any time in the future, they will be able to provide their report as a proof of work they have done on the project.
At the same time, if their project is going to be considered for a reward of some sort, they can rest assured that their progress report will be among the documents reviewed by the commission.
They Improve Project Review and Evaluation
When embarking on a new project, a team will be able to review progress reports along with other documents from previous projects to determine all that went wrong, was done right, and things that could and should be improved.
Previous progress reports can provide a better perspective on loopholes, systemic problems, and other issues that may cause failure or delay. This helps avoiding and resolving them.
They Provide Vision for Future Planning
By knowing what tasks have been completed, the supervisor may focus on following the project as it progresses towards its next stages. In case a report displays that there have been delays, the supervisor can look into the issues that have stalled the progress and come up with solutions that would prevent future delays and failures. Plus, this provides with room for any adjustments in case they are needed.
Writing an Employee Progress Report
Now, what should you start with, when you face the request of providing an employee progress report? You might get quite confused at the beginning, especially if you normally don’t have to compile and write lengthy documents.
One of the reasons people consider this task difficult is the mere idea that they are not writers. However, it’s nothing but a psychological barrier, as employee reports don’t need to be written in some sophisticated language with complex symbolism. Moreover, the simpler the report, the better.
Consider Your Report as a Simple Q&A
The thing is that employee reports are essentially Q&A’s. Just imagine your supervisor, teammates or clients asking you questions regarding your work and you answering them.
For instance, let’s pretend you’re arranging a fair with music, food stalls and such, and you are the one responsible for food. Your project plan may need you to have received letters of intent – LOI – from 10 providers by the end of the first month of preparation. In your progress report, you would have to outline the companies that have sent you their LOIs with their business descriptions and food stall plans.
In case you have providers that want to participate, but haven’t sent their LOIs, you might mention that in your report, as well, and clarify when you expect to receive their letters. At the same time, in case you haven’t achieved your goal, you’d need to explain the reasons along with specifying the things you’ve done and the likely timeline for its achievement.
Use Clear and Straightforward Words
But don’t avoid using technical jargon. For instance, if you are dealing with constructions, you don’t need to avoid words like “risk management,” “tender” or “variation.” But, in general, make sure that your report is plain. Express yourself clearly and concisely.
One of the misconceptions regarding business writing is that the more complex it is, the better. In reality, this is merely confusing. If you can use plain language when talking about your subject, it means you are able to understand it in every detail and deliver clear explanations.
One of the major things that make business documents boring is transforming verbs into nouns. In other words, you don’t want to say “transformation of verbs to nouns,” as the original version looks and sounds simpler and gets straight to the point.
Avoid Passive Voice, if You Can
At times, there is no chance of not using passive voice, especially in formal documents, in which you can’t speak from the first-person point-of-view. But, if you can and do it well, your report simply becomes more engaging.
Let’s get back to our fair with food stalls example. If you’d use passive voice in your report, it would read, “Research on probable food providers was conducted.” In order to convert this sentence to active voice, you have to add an actor: “The staff researched on probable food providers.”
By using specific words, you essentially engage both brain hemispheres, while keeping the right one unstimulated by the lack of abstract words. This was first described in a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience back in 2005.
Although it’s still not exactly clear, how meanings of words are represented in the human mind, we can all agree that the phrase “fresh aroma” doesn’t get your imagination to work as much as “smell of tiger lilies.” In the same way, “a freezing day” doesn’t turn visual imagery on, like “a hardened icicle” does. When you stimulate your reader’s mind by words, they will unlikely nod off, while reading your report.
“A hot day” doesn’t activate visual imagery as much as “a melting popsicle” does. When a reader’s mind is stimulated by words, it’s less likely to drift off.
Hold Fast to Facts
Make sure that your opinion is a part of the project you’re working on. For example, let’s say you have to analyze some data and provide your interpretation of it and further prediction based on it. This is the case, when you may offer your thought and point of view, considering you have proof to back up your words.
Make Use of Graphics to Complement the Text
Make certain you don’t write down lengthy series of figures in any one sentence. The best way to include such data in your report is via charts or tables, particularly if you have to handle with a series of numbers.
Try several types of charts or graphs to identify which ones of them represent your data the best way. There are line graphs, pie charts, bar graphs, scatter plots, etc. Use colors and labels to discern various data sets from each other. There are Numbers for Mac and MS Excel – the most basic ways of taking care of charts and graphs.
Structuring an Employee Progress Report
Now, as we have defined the purposes and importance of a progress report, it seems like it’s time to talk about the “how” of it. First of all, the way you will write your report will depend on its type and its expected reader. As we’ve mentioned above, an employee progress report can be daily, weekly or monthly or even annual. Lastly, it can refer to both an individual employee and an entire team.
In this part, you will need to focus on providing an overview of your report’s progress. The best way to do it is after completing all of the report’s other parts. This way you will have everything in place and be capable of writing an authentic summary of your work. Make sure to keep it simple and short – just one or two paragraphs.
Any proper employee progress report’s good friends are details and numbers. This is particularly true for the ‘Accomplishments’ part of the document. They should conform to your project goals.
This section should include your particular goals for the time period your report covers – day, week, month, quarter or year. It is important that you are precise when writing this section.
In this section, you will have to mention and explain any situations that have prevented you from achieving goals or those that could do it in the next period. You can also provide an action plan with timeline for these roadblocks’ resolution. This is where you should include such details, as materials, finances and human resources that could be required for your solution’s implementation.
Build Your Progress Report with Vectorly
While we have covered seemingly all the valuable things regarding employee progress reports, there is still one approach to this matter that excels above all that was described above.
As you – or your supervisor – may know well, managing a team requires dedication, insight and ingenuity. There are no two absolutely identical persons. Everyone has their own unique set of skills and levels of progression. How do you follow each one of them and then even manage to make team-wide progress report, for example?
You can do it with Vectorly, and quite easily. This is a fairly new platform that is meant to help you understand your team’s potential and current strengths. By using Vectorly, you will know exactly, where your team stands at and will see all the ways you could improve its progress by getting an 360-degree picture of all its activity.
You can integrate it with task managers, such as Jira and Trello and simply transfer all the data to it to monitor how well things go in your company. Take a minute and check the tool at Vectorly.team today!