What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Posted 02.22.2022

The question in the title of this post isn’t about you as the reader. You’re awesome.

However, “What have you done for me lately?” could be the question your senior executive is asking about you. That’s never a good thing. In the absence of real information, people tend to fill in the blanks by making up a story about what must be going on. You want to avoid that because the story that gets made up is hardly ever a good one.

I’ve seen even the highest of high potential leaders get derailed because they left their senior leaders in the dark and to their own devices to determine what’s going on. They’ve delivered great work in the past but that was the past. Senior executives are often impatient people. They want to know what’s happening now that’s going to get the organization to the next.

As I like to say, the work doesn’t speak for itself, you have to speak for the work. In a work world where many are still (and will likely continue to be) working remotely, this becomes even more important. You can’t rely on random occurrences of face time to share what you’re doing. You have to be more strategic and systematic.

So, here’s a four-step process for doing that in a way that will be appreciated and will help you avoid the dreaded question, “What have you done for me lately?”

Keep it relevant – No one has time for irrelevant information or topics, especially senior executives. Make sure that what you’re working on is relevant to the overall agenda and goals of the organization. Keep your work relevant to your senior leaders by focusing on what it delivers for the organization; avoid sharing a long, granular list of what you’re doing. Deliverables mean more to senior executives than do-ables.

Create a cadence – Create a communications cadence with your senior leader that sets you up to share your accomplishments. That starts with a plan that has a simple easy-to-communicate outline of, “This is what we’re going to do, by when and why it matters.”

Report the milestones – Your communications cadence sets you up to report your milestones on a regular basis. The milestone messaging is essentially, “Remember that significant thing we said we were going to do? Well, we did it, and here’s the difference it’s making in delivering on what we need to deliver.”

Keep refreshing your plan – Remember, the way you avoid being asked, “What have you done for me lately?” is to focus on and communicate the now and the next. That means that you’ll want to spend regular time refreshing your going forward game plan. You can do that by considering and asking questions about what’s going to be relevant next, how you and your team can contribute and the milestones you’ll need to hit to get to the deliverable.

If those four steps sound pretty simple, it’s because they are. Keeping your executive informed and feeling good about you and your work doesn’t have to be complicated. Just make sure that while you and your team are doing the work you are taking time to be strategic and systematic about communicating the progress and impact of the work.

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