I work for this organization and record my work in an Excel spreadsheet. My boss messaged me today saying he would prefer me to use another format of MS Word. What does this mean? This message was sent in June and I havent heard any update yet.
No, it just means that the different format enables him to make better use of the numbers.
If your performance is poor, then changing the format does not affect that, it does mean that your boss will have grounds to talk to you about your performance as necessary.
A common reason for requiring particular formats and rules for recording work done is not for reviewing the employee, but for billing their work to various customers (no matter if external customers or internal departments), allocating the cost of all the worker's time to particular projects and business units so that the profitability of these projects and/or business units can be calculated.
"Viewing the utilisation of your services" sounds very much like this purpose - the rest of the organization needs your boss to put your (and others) numbers in some standartised report, so your boss requires a particular format to make it simpler for him/her to copy&paste the data.
This is a fairly common practice - for full time employees or contractors.
For full time employees, accurately tracking output can not only help with ensuring productivity improvements (important to make the company grow faster / become more profitable) but is also required from a financial perspective (example: capitalization of software development costs).
For contractors, accurately tracking output allows the company to ensure they are getting the appropriate value from their 3rd party investments.
I wouldn't assume the ask has anything to do with your performance unless there have been prior indications from your leadership that it's an issue or if you feel that you've not delivered (on time) what you signed up to do.
You know what? I'll take the dissenting, cynical opinion.
Does your boss usually speak that formally with you? I mean, the phrase "view the utilization of your services" isn't exactly common (If your boss usually spouts jargon like that all the time, feel free to disregard the rest of this answer.) In my experience, bosses speak formally and with jargon when they're worried about the side-effects of speaking clearly/concisely/informally.
In this case, I'd actually guess the translation of that business speak is: "I want to better track whether you're actually getting stuff done, because I don't think you are." But they can't simply say that, because you might get angry with them at them accusing you of not being productive/useful.
So along those lines, I'd suggest:
- Taking a good hard look at whether you add to the company. If you don't, can you change some things that you do so that you add better value? Now's a perfect time, since if you can turn things around, it'll hopefully be reflected in better time tracking in the new format.
- Judge whether your boss knows the full scope of your accomplishments. Sometimes, bosses have no idea what the true benefit for a particular employee is. If you've been helping Joe in accounting with the expenses process each week and working as a resource for the XYZ project... does your boss know about them?
- Polish up your Resume/CV. I'm not saying "You're getting Fired!" but if the boss is worried about your productivity, having an up-to-date resume is a good proactive measure.