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Staying up to date with your team can be challenging and time consuming. Some employees may simply forget to share every week, while others may be hard to reach (especially if they are working remotely).
There is a lot that you can do as a leader to stay in the know without disrupting your employees’ work too much. After all, you don’t want your employees to get bogged down by reporting as that can distract them from focusing on the work that really matters.
So how do you ensure your status reporting method is efficient and beneficial to the whole team? We've put together a list of some common troubles, how to fix them, and different ideas for getting status updates, quick!
Common status update obstacles
It’s not unusual for both managers and employees to struggle when it comes to writing and reviewing status updates. The following are some of the most common obstacles you (and your team) may face and mistakes you may make when putting reports together:
Lack of clarity
When done correctly, status reporting does a great job of shedding light on the health of a project. It also simplifies the communication process and provides valuable insights into tracking progress toward goals, and task completion.
If a status report doesn’t share these details in a clear, easy-to-understand way, it doesn’t serve much of a purpose, does it?
It’s not enough for the report to be clear to the person writing it. It also needs to make sense to the person or people reading it.
Too much or too little information
Some people make the mistake of overloading their status updates with too many details. On the flip side, others include far too little information, which makes it hard for team members/managers to know what to do with the report in the first place.
Status updates should provide enough context and information to help everyone understand the state of the project, as well as potential roadblocks and what they can do to keep the project healthy and on track.
If these updates contain too much unnecessary information, though, they may end up not being read at all. Team members may end up merely skimming them because they’re too long, which could cause them to miss out on valuable and relevant insights.
If everyone is allowed to put together a status update in any way they want, there’s going to be a lot of inconsistencies and a lot of room for confusion among team members.
Rather than leaving everyone to their own devices, there should be an agreed-upon structure for status updates. Not only does this cut down on confusion, but it also saves time and allows team members to put them together more efficiently.
Lack of action steps
Often, team members read status reports and don’t see any clear action steps or ideas for how they can address the problems presented in the report. This makes it hard for them to take anything away from the meeting or know what they should be doing differently.
Status updates, ideally, should contain clear next steps to keep the project moving in the right direction.
What to include in status updates
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s talk about what you can do to improve the quality of those status updates. Here are some tips that will help make them more effective:
Write for others
One of the easiest ways to avoid confusion and lack of clarity is to write status updates for those who read it, the people on your team.
Don’t try to impress anyone with an overly detailed status report or one that contains a lot of useless details. Instead, use language that everyone is likely to understand, and include information that is most relevant to the project. This is especially useful if your reports are visible to the entire company – as there could be some useful information for cross-team collaboration efforts.
Use a prioritization system
Part of having an agreed-upon structure for your status updates is having a clear prioritization system that everyone uses and understands.
An example of a good prioritization system might be the RAG (Red, Amber, Green) system.
The RAG system assigns a color to each element of the project to indicate whether production has stopped (red), has slowed down or needs attention (amber), or is on track and moving in the right direction (green). It’s a simple approach that quickly gets everyone on the same page.
Share as you go
Get in the habit of sharing information and delivering status updates as you go. When you create a habit of regularly adding links to goals, updating progress, and sharing documents, etc., you end up saving yourself a lot of time in the long run. You can also feel confident that everyone is getting the most up-to-date information possible.
Include summaries and overviews
By including summaries and overviews, it ensures that everyone on the team sees and understands the most relevant pieces of information related to a specific project.
When it comes to maximizing productivity and accomplishing your team’s goals, there’s no room for misunderstanding or overlooking key details. Summaries and overviews prevent these things from happening.
Flag potential roadblocks
Status updates and progress reports should include clear information about roadblocks (and potential roadblocks). This might include things like potential project risks, delays, and budget increases.
Sharing these details keeps everyone in the loop. It also gives them a chance to start brainstorming ways to address the problem.
Include next steps
Include clear next steps or action items in your status reports.
Give people something to think about or work on between now and the next meeting. Doing this helps to keep everyone engaged and motivated as they move forward with their current tasks and individual projects.
Ways to get quick status updates
Have weekly 1-1 meetings.
Having short, weekly team meetings with your staff makes sure can keep track of everything they are doing. Like all meetings, these meetings must be focused, follow a specific plan, and be a discussion. It’s not only for you to know what is going on but for you to give and get feedback on your employee’s work.
Use a weekly status update tool
Weekly team meetings and all other activities can be more effective if you use a weekly reporting platform that lets you stay up to date with your team all the time. Weekdone utilizes the Plans, Progress, Problems (PPP) methodology so you can have a clear picture of your team’s activities.
PPP requires everyone to set 4 – 5 tasks (Plans) each week and move them into Progress as they are accomplished. It is a quick and easy way for employees to give live updates on their work. You can use Weekdone on a computer or mobile to see what your employees have accomplished with ease. You can also use these tasks as talking points for your weekly 1-1 meetings.
Weekly pulse surveys
A growing trend in workplaces is to use tools to measure employee job satisfaction. A lot of performance management apps offer a chance for employees to rate their mood, happiness, or stress levels. This is a good way to see the general mood in the office. By making this a part of your weekly reporting schedule, you'll have a nice way to gauge how happy employee's are, and whether or not you should check-in with a 1:1 weekly review.
Task list on the wall
This is something that is commonly used in Sales and IT, but the method can be used in most teams. For this, have all your employees put their tasks on a blackboard. This can give you an overview of what people are working on, without having to leave your desk. When tasks get done, they should be removed from the public task list. This is basically an analog version of PPP status updates.
Informal downtime in the office
Informal communication is important. Every quarter you should organize team events where people can talk and engage in activities outside the constraints of work. These events are a great way to find out what people are thinking, brainstorm, share management’s vision or explain your own aims. Teams that share more experiences than just the ones in the office usually work better together. And building trust and relationships inside a team is a cornerstone to having a high-performing team.
Employee leaderboards are a great way to recognize your employees and give credit where credit is due. Once employee are recognized, they'll be more motivated to share updates – and possibly motivate others to do the same. This is a simple tactic that goes a long way!
Listening to your employees.
I left the most important one for last. Being a leader requires empathy and a willingness to listen to your people. If you are not open to receiving feedback, no method will help you understand what is going on and your team is doomed to fail.
Feedback is effective only when you listen and take action to make changes. Being a good listener not only makes you better, but allows employees to feel more comfortable opening up. There are many ways to become a better listener.
Find a weekly reporting system that works for your team.
No team should implement all of these hacks. Each person reacts differently to managers checking in on them. So, you have to find a system that works best for your team. Keep the tips listed above in mind so you can start seeing better results right away.
If you are looking for practical examples, check out our case studies about weekly reporting.
Or maybe you need more help with your status updates and reporting process. Weekdone Team Compass is here to save the day! It's free for teams 3 or less, or just $29 / month for larger teams with unlimited users! Try Team Compass for free with a 2-week trial now!
Streamline your process, stay organized, and boost productivity!