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Weekly Digests to Increase Visibility and Transparency

Lately, a few people have been asking me about my methodology to keep track of progress at work. In this blog post I’m going to share the process I follow to create and share weekly digests, both for me and my team.


What is a Weekly Digest Anyway?

A couple of years back I came across a post from Will Larson (@lethain), titled “Sending weekly 5-15 updates”.

The concept was to send weekly updates to relevant people within your company, with the goal of spending fifteen minutes a week writing a report that can be read in five minutes. As a bonus, such reports can be extremely useful, especially around performance review time, to compile your brag documents.

It stuck with me.

Since then (and if you ever worked directly with me you might remember), I started taking the habit of sending such weekly reports. First, as an individual contributor, then as a Technical Lead for my team(s).

Here I’m going to share what worked for me, and some sample templates.

Personal Digest

This practice translates into having something (could be a document, a piece or paper, etc.) where you can write things down as your day progresses. It can be as simple as a Google Doc.

Here is what mine looks like:

Personal Digest
Personal Digest

As you work through your day, make the habit to quickly note down the task you just completed.

This has a few benefits. First of all, at the end of the day you can look back at what you were able to achieve (sometime days pass in a blur, and without such system in place it might be difficult to recall where you spent your time and - as a consequence - have any sense of accomplishment). Second, it will be easier at the end of your week to go back through your notes and compile a quick summary of what you Completed, what is In progress (and will likely overflow to next week), and what is currently Blocked (and which you might need to escalate and/or ask for help).

This could be especially useful while onboarding at a new company, to show your consistency and make a good impression on your new team.

You can find my template as a GDoc: Weekly Digest - Personal

Team Digest

As you progress in your career (as either a Technical Lead or an Engineering Manager), you might end up making sure the work of your team is promoted and made available to the greater organization.

This means having a way to scale the approach to cover your team’s progress (and here your teammates collaboration is going to be fundamental).

Here is what my template looks like:

Team Digest
Team Digest

As you can see, you have to drop the details of daily accomplishments and focus on the bigger picture, and the projects currently underway. You might have also noticed there are 2 different formats in the template, depending on the medium you decide to use. More on this next.

You can find my template as a GDoc: Weekly Digest - Team

Medium & Recipients

The medium you will decide to use is directly correlated to the recipients of your digests.

If you are sending a personal digest, the recipient will likely be your manager (and maybe your closer team). Here an email should suffice.

On the other hand, if you are broadcasting your team’s digests, you want to be sure the right amount of people will be able to see them, if they want. Here is the key, you don’t want to force people to read your digests. Rather, you should make them readily available for everyone to consume, if and when they wish to do so. Hence, for team updates, a public Slack channel could be the most appropriate.

That’s what I currently do as well. Every Friday around 4pm I share my team’s weekly digest in the public channel of our team, and then cross-post it in the channel of the Security department as an FYI.

In the end, find what is most suitable for your company and use it. The content is what it’s important, rather than the medium.


Conclusions

In this post I outlined a process I follow personally to make sure my work and the work of my team gets broadcasted, so to raise awareness and transparency around our efforts. At the same time, I’ve published the templates I use to create both Personal and Team digests.

I hope you found this post useful and interesting, and I’m keen to get feedback on it! If you find the information shared was useful, if something is missing, or if you have ideas on how to improve it, please let me know on Twitter.

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Marco Lancini

Marco Lancini
Hi, I'm Marco Lancini. I'm a Security Engineer, mainly interested in cloud native technologies and security...  [read more]