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Set the Expectation that You Get Status Reports

I have a few pet peeves about managing (someday I’ll list them all out and ask for your suggestions). One 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.

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. If I asked someone to do something, it could pop into my head wondering what is happening. By notifying me, that eliminates that and also lets me know you are being considerate to me as a person.

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