What Is a Progress Report and Why Is It Important?

by Krantcents · 19 comments

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A progress report is a report of work accomplished during a specific time period.  Simple enough, but how often do you reflect on your progress?  Although I monitor my progress and adjust my efforts often, I very rarely prepare a report.  Just recording your progress is not enough to accomplish your goals either. Does your progress report include an action plan?  What do you do?

I am always a big advocate of goal setting and goals.  I particularly like SMART goals because it helps you establish specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-targeted goals.   Just setting goals is not enough to make you successful.  Goals and goal setting is just the beginning of the achieving your goals.  Simply setting a goal is not enough!  You still need motivation to clear or accomplish your goal and monitor your performance.

Monitoring your performance should be done daily/weekly/monthly and adjust your efforts accordingly.  It is a little like a performance evaluation in the workplace.  Your manager and you establish goals together and evaluate your performance.  You would not want a surprise at your performance evaluation and you don’t want one for your goals setting either.  How often do you evaluate your performance regarding your goals and what do you do about it?

Just monitoring our progress is not enough!  You need an action plan based on your performance.  If you achieve your goal, you can use those skills on your next goal.  If you fail, you adjust, reevaluate and make changes to achieve your goal.  All successful people fail along the way, but they do something about it.  They evaluate and adjust their efforts to achieve the goal.  The simple act of writing down your goals help some people focus more on their goals.  Writing them down is not enough!

In companies, they have company-wide goals and every department establishes goals that are tied into the company goals.  Individuals set goals based on what they want to achieve and should tie those goals into a longer term vision of what they want to achieve.  Whether you are saving for retirement or for a down payment for a home, you need a vision of what you want to achieve by completing that goal.  How does buying that home fit into your financial goals?

It starts with a long range plan.  Is a home just a place to live or is it an asset?   Is it forced savings and something the IRS subsidizes?  How does it fit into your long range plan?  It could be a source of rental income when you move.  I recommend that everyone hangs onto your first, second and third home and rent them out.  Your renters will pay off your mortgage and you will have a tidy sum of income to support you in your retirement years.

Maybe that is not in your financial long range plan.  You may just want to own your home without a mortgage and invest the excess in the stock market.  If you do not have a plan and evaluate your goals relative to a long range plan, how will you know?  Evaluating your performance must always have context and your goals are part of that context and a plan is the rest of that context.  Having a plan helps us do our best and do more than the task at hand.  How are you doing?

A progress report is a written evaluation of your goals and should include how you are doing with your overall plan.  For example, you could have a goal of losing twenty-five (25) pounds.  Your overall goal should be to maintain a healthy lifestyle so you will never gain it back.  That healthy lifestyle would include a reasonable diet and exercise program to avoid gaining back the weight.  Another example is saving for a down payment for a home as though it stops there.  The individual goal must fit with the overall goals.

A progress report can be a structured method of looking at your goals in context with your overall goals.  It can be a way of evaluating your progress and help give you the structure of a action plan to achieve the goal.  It is not enough to just point out the mistakes or to summarize why you did not reach your goal.  Taking an objective view of your progress, identifying problems and developing solutions should be part of the report.  In some ways it can be an opportunity to make excuses, but you need to turn it into a solution or road map to the solution.

Final Thoughts

Performance evaluations are part of every person’s employment.  I think it is a great device or structure to help you achieve your goals.  It also helps you achieve your goals in context of a long range plan.  Having a grand plan places more meaning on the individual goals and provides more motivation.  If you understand why you do things, you are much more motivated to do things to reach your goal.  Give yourself a progress report and evaluate your performance.  An action plan based on you performance will help you achieve your goals.  A progress report will help you succeed!

Photo by: Enokson

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Money Beagle December 4, 2012 at 7:28 am

I agree with this advice, because it’s important to measure along the way if you’re on track for your targets. I know we often have hard deadlines, and while you may be getting things done that are taking you closer, if you don’t set goals to measure against along the way, you may find that you’re actually behind, and have to do a bunch of catch up. Part of your progress report activity should also be to level-set the initial goals and make sure they’re still realistic and needed. You might find when you’re halfway into something that a component that you initially thought as critical could be a little less important, and then would need to re-focus your goals and measuring milestones.

Krantcents December 4, 2012 at 7:46 am

Absolutely! I set goals, milestones and tasks to reach my ultimate goal. Measuring progress on those tasks etc is real important.

Squirrelers December 4, 2012 at 10:08 am

I have been settting monthly goals for certain things, and then evaluating my own performance at the end of the time period. It’s good to understand how we’re doing, and to evaluate what we need to do better. Or, in some cases, re-evaluate what we are seeking to accomplish.

Bottom line is that it’s good to take that next step beyond just setting goals, and evaluate how we are doing. That’s a good way to truly analyze and learn.

Krantcents December 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

Although goals and goal setting are important, I think monitoring and adjusting are necessary to make it happen. Personally, I have weekly goals and I measure the progress weekly.

Kathleen, Frugal Portland December 4, 2012 at 11:15 am

I would love to read more — do you have a template for a progress report? I’m a huge fan of things like this — what about a performance evaluation?

Krantcents December 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I am not aware of a template. When I did performance evaluations, I asked the employee to come up with his/her goals and that was the starting point for a dialog. I would add department or individual goals and I would provide feedback.

Veronica @ Pelican on Money December 4, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I give progress reports to anyone I work for :) Usually a monthly one, but sometimes more often if the outcome is particularly favorable.

Krantcents December 5, 2012 at 7:03 am

Keep copies for your annual review. You may want to incorporate a slimmed down one for your personal goals.

Kim@Eyesonthedollar December 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

I have been really bad in the past because I had very vague goals without specific timelines or plans to get there. The past couple of years I have started to set more specific goals and it has been amazing. I like the idea of a progress report because it keep you on track and you can redo the things that don’t score well.

Krantcents December 5, 2012 at 6:56 am

You should check your progress weekly whether you prepare a report or not.

Buck Inspire December 4, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Great post. I should really practice SMART goals more as I find myself slipping because I am not holding myself accountable to measures and time targets. Thanks KC!

Krantcents December 5, 2012 at 6:57 am

Sometimes it is the goal itself vs. what you do about it. Start small and build up.

Untemplater December 4, 2012 at 11:41 pm

I’m a big fan of writing things down. I keep a list of all the things I do at work which makes it really easy to write my self review at year end and it’s also fun to see everything I’ve done throughout the year. It’s easy to forget otherwise!

Krantcents December 5, 2012 at 6:59 am

I used to throw notes of accomplishments into a folder for my annual review. It makes it easier than trying to think of them once a year. I am a list person too, I write it down and love crossing it off.

The Happy Homeowner December 5, 2012 at 8:33 am

Excellent post–I submit weekly progress reports to my managers, and I keep all records, combine them, and present them when it’s time for the annual review. Just maintaining these types of records alone has garnered me positive feedback for being an “organized, proactive employee.” Great post!

Krantcents December 5, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Thank you. I used to do something similar when i was in industry. It was expected as a CFO or financial professional. I used to throw a copy into my annual appraisal file to remind me of an accomplishment. It really helps when you want a raise!

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