“I have made this [letter] longer, because I – have not had the time to make it shorter.” – Blaise Pascal
If you want to impress your boss . . . whether you are new on the job or not . . . keep him periodically apprised of your progress and plans. You should do so not to ask for permission or seek praise but to relieve him of the responsibilities of checking up on you and worrying about how things are going.
A perfect update memo has the following characteristics:
1. It is short, preferably less than one page. Your boss doesn’t have time to read a tome nor should he. Be practical. If you want him to read your memos, and you should, take an extra few minutes to edit out the fluff.
2. It is concise. An update memo is not a work diary. You need to focus on significant accomplishments and challenges, not provide a detailed account of everything you did. Following this rule makes following the one-page rule relatively easy.
3. It is upbeat. No complaints. No condemnations. No criticisms. This is not the place for them.
4. It is frank. If there are problems, state them briefly and directly and explain, also briefly (bullets are best), the several ideas you have for solving them.
5. It is specific. When you discuss tasks you wish to accomplish, provide deadlines. (Give yourself some fudge time, but don’t let your subordinates know about that. Set shorter deadlines for them.)
Generally, it’s a good idea to break the update memo into two parts: an account of the major events of the past period and your objectives for the coming period.