Reports are a part of life for university reps in China but what is sometimes overlooked is that it is an important opportunity to build your personal brand.
You might think that the reports you write for your manager and other members of senior management don’t affect you or your career too much.
After all, it’s just an update on your work in the past week, month, quarter or year and mostly they know about it already because they asked you to do it.
And because it doesn’t seem that important, you might just list the things you’ve done in a very passive, disconnected way and in no particular order or without emphasis:
- Last week a meeting was held with Mr Xu from XYZ University to discuss partnerships.
- This month 4 education fairs were attended with close agent partners.
However, there are two career-limiting problems with this approach:
Firstly, your ‘stream of consciousness’ might be hard to read and comprehend, especially if it is poorly formatted. This may position you as a bit disorganized or limited, so not employable above your current level.
Secondly, if your real achievements, the ones that demonstrate your true value, are not emphasised then they (and you) can easily be overlooked by busy management that have a lot of other things on their mind.
So it comes down to how would you prefer to be perceived by your management?
- “That friendly employee who does whatever we ask of him or her in China.”
- “That professional colleague who leads our business in China.”
If it’s the latter then you need to view your reports as an important opportunity to build your personal brand.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after you’ve finished your next report:
- Does my report show I know, appreciate and am working towards the headline objectives of my university in China?
- Does it demonstrate that I am an active part of the solution to the particular problems my management is facing in their own jobs?
- Does it advertise my strengths, as I’d like them to be seen?
If you can answer ‘yes’ to these three questions then your report is starting to signal to your management your readiness and suitability for more and better opportunities.
One last point on grammar and vocabulary:
If English is your second language don’t get hung up on trying to write perfect grammar or use sophisticated vocabulary. It will take a lifetime for you to learn to write like a university professor and besides most native English speakers will forgive imperfections in vocabulary or grammar if your report demonstrates:
- Good planning;
- Well organised structure; and
- Clear, consistent formatting.
That’s the ‘low hanging fruit’ in report writing and a quick and effective way to enhance your personal brand.