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Using Snippets to Track Performance and Growth

Handling Promotion
Personal Growth
Impact

2 April, 2021

Irina Stanescu
Irina Stanescu

Tech Lead & Staff Software Engineer at Ex-Google Ex-Uber

Irina Stanescu, ex-Tech Lead at Google and Uber, tells how she uses “snippets” to track her performance and gain visibility on her work.

Problem

Managers are often unaware of all the things their reports are doing day-to-day. With too many things on their plate already and endless back to back meetings, they will not have the bandwidth to notice and note down all the things their reports accomplished. If you don’t keep track of it yourself, your achievements might go unnoticed. In fact, paradoxically, the more self managed you are, the higher the chance your manager won’t know exactly all the good things you’re doing. Needless to say, when the promotion times come, the decision will depend much on your own diligent tracking of the work you did.

Actions taken

At the end of every week, I would make a summary of what I was doing during that week. While the format of those summaries can be different, I chose to use “snippets”, weekly summaries I used to keep at Google. Snippets are brief, bullet-pointed summaries that would list my achievements of the past week. For example, I did x code reviews, submitted y code changes, attended z meetings, mentored w people, unblocked / solved certain issues etc. It would take me less than 10 minutes weekly to write them.

Quarterly, or close to the promotion time, I would aggregate and categorize my snippets which would allow me to do a self-assessment of my skills and competencies. Then, I would share them with my manager. Some people might choose to share their snippets weekly with their managers, but most managers are too busy to care or even look at them that frequently. So, I keep them and make them useful when performance evaluation comes. The goal is not to be promoted faster, but to have data that I can use to guide my growth and keep myself accountable.

As a matter of fact, snippets helped me get promoted although my manager at first thought I was not ready and was inclined to wait for six more months. Over the weekend, as I was looking at the competencies for the next level, I went through my snippets and based on that realized that I had enough evidence to exemplify how I’m already performing at the next level. So after aggregating my snippets in a doc, I shared it with my manager. The doc actually made my manager realize I was ready to be put up for promotion, and the rest is history.

We, as humans, tend to forget the details of our day to day, especially if they are not directly related to our main projects. Did you give good advice to someone? Did you conduct interviews? Did you help unblock someone on a task? Did you take initiative in certain efforts? These are all great achievements, but also they’re the first things our human minds might forget, since they’re not our primary focus.

I’m a firm believer that “You can’t fix what you don’t measure”, and snippets are a low cost, easy way to track your work. Yes, it’s your manager’s job to help your career development, bet they only see a slice of you. You know best how you spend your time.

Moreover, you don’t have to wait for the performance cycle to discuss your performance. Snippets can be a great tool to initiate a career conversation earlier.

Lessons learned

  • People should be co-creators in their career development. They should take responsibility for their own growth. No one should exclusively rely on their managers for feedback; there are things each of us can do to keep ourselves accountable and identify areas of growth.
  • Snippets are a great tool to map all the things you did and gaps that you are missing. As much as they are helpful to you, they are helpful to your manager and you’d be doing yourself and your manager a huge favor by using them.

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