# Engineering Brag Documents

Author’s Note: This article is presented to help Engineering Managers introduce Brag Documents to their organizations and teams, and (more importantly) convince them of the value in capturing accomplishments on a frequent, informal basis.

Multiple self-evaluations throughout the year, monthly reflections, quarterly retention conversations and regular one-on-ones; whatever the variation in your organization, there's an expectation that developers share the work they're delivering and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to improvement. It's also frustrating to have done something really important that wasn’t recognized and celebrated because people were not aware or forgot what you did.

There are two challenges:

  • Your manager or lead doesn’t remember everything you did over the past month/quarter/year.
  • YOU don’t remember everything you did over the past month/quarter/year.

There’s got to be a better way than spending hours sifting through a mountain of PRs, tickets, emails, messages and paper notes. Enter the Brag Document.

A Brag Document is intended to provide a place for frequently capturing notable events and your accomplishments throughout the year. It will make 1:1 preparation and reviews much easier to complete because you will be able to quickly answer the question "wait, what did I do in the last <n> months?" It will also make your lead aware of all the awesome things you do that they might not otherwise know about, and let you reflect on your contributions and growth over time.

In its most basic form a Brag Doc is pretty simple: instead of trying to remember everything you’ve done, maintain a document that lists your accomplishments so you can refer to it when needed. There are a few tactics that can enhance the process:

# Do

  • Develop a habit of recording notable activities and accomplishment on a regular basis. Example: schedule 15 min every 2 weeks to update your doc.
  • Share with your lead and ask for feedback (your 1:1 is a great time to do this).
  • Include any notes that relate to larger initiatives or themes (examples: how you addressed "Security of our application" or "Improving developer onboarding").
  • Use your Brag Doc to drive a conversation with your lead about areas you'd like to explore more/less and future direction.

# Don’t

  • Only focus on concrete deliverables. Include notes on challenges you overcame or what could have gone better.
  • Exclude "fuzzy" but important work, like "improve monitoring & support, addressing technical debt, or streamlining team process".
  • Worry about the format. If you've already started some type of document keep using it. Optimize for regular updates.
  • Avoid celebrating your accomplishments. It's important to share; we all want to recognize your hard work!

Templates don't need to be anything beyond a simple list with the date and a few notes. Focus on capturing events at the right level: broader than a ticket or issue but detailed enough to be distinct and meaningful. TIP: If your organization has company-level values they probably show up on annual performance reviews. A sortable filter will let you easily query on the relevant items, reducing this painful preparation to a cut & paste operation.

Below is a template you can modify and start capturing your accomplishments. It includes some sample entries to give you an idea of the type of content you should be capturing. The most important thing is you are updating your Brag Doc on a regular basis and detailing your deliverables, improvements and accomplishments. You do a lot of amazing work; let’s capture and celebrate it!

# My Brag Document

Q4 Overall Goal: Building cross-functional capacity and resiliency in the team

Date Description Learn & Innovate Understand & Deliver Customers First Elevate & Help
Oct 15 Helped Fred prepare his lunch & learn presentation with feedback on his test run X
Oct 17 Jumped on a customer call with a stressed client and resolved their reporting issue X X
Oct 18 On-boarded our new dev Frank and did a deep-dive of our team practices X X
Oct 22 Investigated, documented and shared several sophisticated queueing structures we need to evaluate X
Oct 25-27 Completed 5 developer coding interviews for People Ops X
Oct 28 Reprioritized my work to pair with Sarah and finish the last feature for release next week X

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