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Expect Status Reports

One of my big pet peeves is the employee who complains about having to report on the status of work. I’m not talking about the person who dislikes the administrative nature of it (reporting is not usually fun). I’m talking about the person who claims it offers no value. It usually sounds like this: “I spend too much time reporting and it prevents me from doing real work.”

Reporting is real work. You must set the expectation that everyone who works for you has to report on the status of tasks. The organization uses reporting to create a historical record of work. This not only ensures things are done, but provides information that will be helpful down the road.

When we work in teams and organizations, it benefits everyone to know the status of tasks. It doesn’t have to be a long, formal report all the time, but letting the key people know what is happening is critical for effective communication and speed of work.

I generally ask for two types of reporting from my employees:

  • Weekly report - this is a bullet point summary of what was accomplished this week, your goals for next week, and any key notes. I ask people to get me this on Friday before they leave. I note that it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to do and if they are using a to-do list during the week, it probably will only take 5 minutes.

  • Completion of tasks I assign - when I specifically ask someone to do a task, I expect they notify me when it is complete. This is very simple and basic. An email saying it was done (or even copying me on an email that lets me know it was done) or a quick pop-in to my office to tell me it was done.

I not only tell my team that reporting is part of the task, but I also tell them it is a courtesy to me. I trust my team, but I am also human. When I assign a task, often times I will write myself a note to follow up on it or a notification that I am waiting for them to do something. When you don't report to me, I have to chase you down to get that thing off my list. You being preemptive with reporting helps me.

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