I have 24 direct reports and always find it hard to get a good understanding of what each of them do on a weekly basis. A few weeks ago, I retweeted about a post that might help.
Frank Addante (@FrankAddante), founder and CEO of the Rubicon project wrote a post for Inc.com that has really helped me build understanding and collaboration within my team. The post is called “How Twitter Can Improve Your Management (in 140 Characters or Less)“. Frank states:
I’m a big fan of short, concise, summarized communication. Twitter’s revolution of 140-character messages inspired me to create a similar management reporting format that I have found to be very effective.
Frank asked each staff member to send him 3 to 5 bullets for each category with a Twitter-style lime of 140 characters per bullet item. He suggested four categories for the report:
- What are you working on?
- What do you need?
- What are you worried about?
Once the manager receives all the messages, they assemble the report and send it out to the entire team.
I really liked this idea and decided to implement it with my team. I called this approach “The Monday Report”. I thought this report would be a great way for my team to proactively send information to me and their teammates. As the manager, I am one of the team and also post my Monday Report. It is critical as the leader to model the behaviour that you expect from your team. I also like being able to share what my workload is like and my needs and concerns.
I spoke to one of my team members and we decided to implement this report in SharePoint using a simple form sorted by week. We now have a repository of Monday reports for each week and everyone can see what is going on. I tweaked the category names and added some descriptors to help my team understand each category:
- Highlights – list up to 5 items you completed last week so we can all celebrate
- Work on – list up to 5 items you are working on this week
- My Needs – list up to 5 items that you need help with from your teammates, your team leader or your manager
- My Concerns – list up to 5 items that are worries for you that we can work on together
We have used the report for 5 weeks now and I am really pleased with the results. I feel more connected with my team and can act on their needs and concerns in a proactive way. Of course, this kind of change did not go completely smoothly. Here are a few challenges that came up:
- a few people wanted to contribute anonymously – I stated that this was not an option as I would not be able to act on their needs if I didn’t know who they were
- there was a concern and a sense of discomfort about sharing this information with the entire team – I reminded everyone that our team is based on being “open, candid and people centred” which means sharing was the only way to leverage the full power of our team
- there was a concern that this was not a good forum when the concern was about a colleague – I clarified that this was not the place for voicing concerns about colleagues and to please speak privately to the person or their team leader or to their manager
- finally, one person stated that when they saw my introduction note to the team, their first though was “Here is another micro-management technique” but when they saw the third and fourth columns they said “this is a different approach allowing us to ask for help”
Since we implemented the Monday Report, I have seen a series of positive outcomes. Some of them are:
- realigned people who had a lesser workload to help team members that needed help
- escalated issues that are delaying projects – I was able to be proactive and escalate the issue with the manager of the client area delaying the project
- surfaced the need for new tools to help manage the technology services we are responsible for
- encouraged team members to develop a training plan so they can more effectively manage the technology they are responsible for
- staff from different technology areas are now talking to each other because of what they see in each others’ reports – this level of collaboration was an unexpected bonus!
I highly recommend this approach for all managers to adopt with their teams. A huge thank you to Frank for getting this started with his blog post!