Communication – What’s Your Team Doing?

Communication, or a lack of communication, is one of the biggest reasons that causes businesses to fail. Almost every time I coach a company I find bad communication being the reason for a lot of problems.

Communication, Leadership, Business

I really enjoyed your guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog. Do you have an example of the Weekly Report you use for your team members?  I am looking at implementing one of these for my team members.

Thanks so much for the work you do! – Scott

In case you haven’t read them, here are the posts on Mike’s blog:

Hey Scott, when people ask me about weekly reports, I simply tell them that they are a way for your team to report on what they’ve done for the week. It’s not about “Big Brother” checking up on them, although they do have a certain amount of accountability.

The problem is, if you’re using them mainly for the accountability, then you have bigger problems. Your goal should be to show the team member and the leader what has happened in the week the report is written.

Why is this important? Simple, there have been so many days that I have come home from work and I couldn’t tell you five things I did that day. It’s not that I didn’t do anything. In fact, it’s just the oposite.

I ran like crazy and the day was just a blur at that point. The weekly report helps you to know what you accomplished, and helps you to stay on top of your goals. Assuming you have set goals that you’re checking regularly. You do…right?

On top of all of this, it helps the leader to make sure the team member is doing the tasks they were hired to do. It also shows the leader if there is a lack of communication between the leader and the team member.

If so, it’s easily fixable. You can then sit down with the team member and compare their weekly report to their job description. Any points of contention should be immediately ironed out and adjusted if need be. You do have complete job descriptions for your team…right?

“But Chris, you want me to have my guy who pours concrete all day long to do a weekly report?”

Uh…yeah! Are you telling me he poured concrete in the same hole for 40 hours? Or did he do different job sites? And were there any problems? If so, what? And did he run into customers? If so, what happened?

It’s more than just, “What did you do?” this week. It’s a vital part of communication in a world where businesses suffer from great communication.

Question: Do you see how vital weekly reports are?

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84 thoughts on “Communication – What’s Your Team Doing?”

  1. I have to admit Chris, I’ve never been in a situation where my boss had me do a report like this. Heck, I’ve rarely had a boss that used the job description for anything more than a token for HR.

    With that being said, weekly reports do make so much sense in what you are saying here. With communication being such an elusive but critical component of success, it’s just another way to slay that dragon.

    When people write things down, I believe they say things they wouldn’t always say face to face. This also gives them a chance to think things through a bit, which can lead to personal epiphany’s. Kind of like writing a blog post….

    Most leaders aren’t used to getting that kind of feedback, so I can see how this could be very powerful.

    p.s. I love, love, love the concrete guy example!

  2. Hi Chris, excellent post.

    I’m personally struggling at institute the weekly report as a must in my team and I recognize how important feedback is to institute proper communication.

    I keep it simple with no specific format as I believe that a simple well written email is enough to ignite communication, improvement and success celebration.

    As every change, this is not an easy task but the benefits I’m starting to see in team alignment and productivity are definitely worth the effort.

    Al the best,

    Giuseppe

    @4hourleader – fourhourleader.wordpress.com

    1. It’s important that you started. It doesn’t have to be perfect yet. Like you said, keep it simple. People can do simple. After you are all consistent with simple, it’s a small step to add a format to it and tweak it. Great job!

    2. I think it was Guy Kiyosaki that said “don’t worry, be crappy.”
      Some personality types can’t deal well with a free form requirement. You might consider providing a tiny bit of structure to your request, as in “What took most of your time this week?” or “What provided you the greatest headache this week?”
      Food for thought, anyhow.

  3. The weekly report is one of the most effective things I’ve put in place in the last few months, especially for my own productivity. I started doing this and sending it to my team members and board of directors to communicate to them what I’ve accomplished and also why somethings did not get done.

    I’m the only one on the team to do this, and honestly, the only feedback or responses I’ve gotten have been from some of the board members, who now have more clarity about my responsibilities. And I get more comments on the weekly highs and lows (which are frequently not work related) than anything else.

    I was hoping that my team would start doing this too, but so far it’s just me. But I feel it’s an effective way to share with the team my week, and to also motivate myself either by how much i got done (when i thought I didn’t) or to push harder to get something done so I can report that it’s done.

      1. That’s what I’m hoping – communication is something we keep saying that we need to improve, but it seems to just be getting worse. I’m trying to set my example and do my part.

    1. Wow! Nicely done Carol! I admire your QBQ initiative. (Can you tell who’s reading the book right now….) One thing for sure, if no one else is doing it, and I know you’re not trying to do it for this reason, but if no one else is doing this – guess who is standing out as being a trustworthy team member right now???? That would be you. 🙂

  4. I want to highlight something you touched on – explaining to your team the purpose of the report. In short, do it. That’s a huge part of doing reports especially if your team has a history of trust issues. As the leader, you can’t allow your team to misperceive your good intent because chances are they will if you don’t hit that head on.

    1. I work with several people that are always suspicious of management. Assuming that they’re out to get them. Making sure that there is clear communication of the purpose will help.

    2. Totally agree man – there must be a big sell job on the why behind the report. Totally. And I bet even a few leaders would need to take that ‘why’ out and remind themselves of it a few times…(This is not a bat to hit my team with…)

  5. You know, even as a (currently) solopreneur, I’m considering doing these for myself every week and sticking them in a binder so I can refer back to them when I’m feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing and see what actually transpired. And as a subcontractor, they’ll be invaluable in demonstrating value to my prime.

    Wonderful!

          1. It’s “SkroppBrokeIT”. It’s an IT consulting business. I figure if IT consulting is about fixing things that are broken, I’ll never be out of business!

  6. I could talk about communication for hours on end.

    The more I read your work, Chris, and the wisdom from the tribe here, the more it begins to sound like my pastor, and a general manager I used to work for. Neither one told us anything new, but they communicate(d) constantly, REMINDING us what is true, and right, and necessary.
    I have the opportunity in my workplace to fill a leadership void, and that means communicating with the team, not just about work, but about other concerns–sequestration is a big deal right now for some of my folks since I work indirectly for the department of defense. Even believers are panicking, and communication, even if it’s to communicate “we don’t yet know” has a great potential to calm fears. Or, if people freak, I know I need to adjust my communication content and style!
    I do a weekly report for myself, since my goals lie outside work, but I am very casual about it. I think I need to be more deliberate, as if I were writing to my boss. Which I suppose I am.

  7. I read the post way back when and I still missed (or skipped over) the weekly report part. It’s funny (not in the ha ha way) how on our team we had weekly status meetings where everyone reported what they were working on. They were viewed as a waste of time, so they went away. This means that I have no clue what everyone is working on. As a lead, that is a big problem. We don’t have KRAs, and I would love for us to implement those. I’ll have to start with my own. As far as the weekly report, we would definitely benefit if it’s done well. From what I understand, it doesn’t have to be a super elaborate bureaucratic form to fill out, but a tool to gauge progress and identify obstacles.

    I’ll have to give some thought on how to implement this by influencing my supervisor, manager and project manager. Piece of cake!

    1. I like your point Lily – I can totally see why people would see this weekly report thing as a waste of time – I wonder how you could package it differently so that people could see value behind it. Hmmm.. Thoughts?

  8. Good stuff Chris.

    I think a big part of making them effective is having a culture in place prior. I’m thinking of my last place of employment. Due to the VERY low levels of trust, if weekly reports had been implemented everyone there would have felt like they were being babysat.
    These things can’t be done in seclusion, they must be done in connection with building and nuturing your culture, or it wont work!

    1. Agreed man – culture will help. But I think maybe if you’re in a spot where there is no good culture going on, and you’re the person in charge trying to create change, weekly reports could be a catalyst for many changes – as long as you communicate frequently about the why behind the report, and as long as you make sure your actions remain aligned behind the why of the reports…could become an agent for change.

  9. Awesome burnt rice Chris! Thank you! I am working hard to improve communication with my team members, and this post was a perfect reminder of how I need to do that. I DO see how vital weekly reports are.

    I’ve been doing them with part of my team, sort of like a trial to see how I would roll it out with everyone, and I have already seen how valuable these reports are.

    1. They helped me spot a team member doing something not quite the way they should be – corrected that with them. (Prevention.)

    2. They helped me see where they were in their larger project goals. (Felt like I was taking someone’s pulse. Cool.)

    Best of all, we were able to talk/chat/write back and forth with each other about questions and situations they were facing.

    For me: reports are great because they help me remain accountable to my team too. I need to work hard to improve my communication – being regular an intentional is my area to improve.

    1. That’s good stuff Aaron! Curious, do they just send you an email or is it in an attached document? Do you have them write paragraphs or in bullet format?

      Do they say things that make you mad sometimes? How do you respond?

      Sorry for the 20 questions, but I’m just curious how you are making this work…

      1. Hey Bob,
        Actually, it’s none of the above. We’ve been doing it on Basecamp. Ever hear of it?

        I don’t have an office space (well, my home…but that’s…my home..) so our team of teachers are spread out all around the city. (Mexico City)

        So far, I’ve had one group of teachers post a few things in a project on Basecamp just for them. They post their lesson objectives, what course objectives they covered during that day of class, and any extra info they want to write about.

        They can write in any way that they want. One guy goes nuts and posts very detailed info about his classes.

        Another person is much more…quick. Just the stuff that she covered – quick, succinct sentences. Sometimes even bullet points.

        Both work for me.

        Do they say stuff that makes me mad? Not really, but few things make me mad. You have to really WANT to make me mad to make me mad. Hehe.

        Seriously though, when I spotted that one of my teachers wasn’t using a few required tools for their class, I gently let them know right there in my reply. (I try to reply to most of their posts. And posts are private – so only they see what we write back and forth about.)

        I was careful not to appear..umm…freaky. I just let them know about the student’s expectations, and that the course material was specifically requested by the student so we (I used WE a lot) need to be sure to use everything at our disposal to make the class work well.

        If I were to get mad, I think I would move the discussion face to face asap.

        How about you – are you using any weekly reports? And hope my answers are helpful.

        1. Thanks for sharing buddy!

          I’ve used Basecamp before with my business coach. What a great way to communicate – good idea!

          When I was in sales we did a weekly report, but it was all about the numbers. It was also shared with everyone on the team, which was strange at times. Not sure I would recommend that because everyone held stuff back and tried to make themselves look good.

          Thanks again for being so open about your situation. Very insightful!!

          1. Totally agree there – I think people would try to look good if the forum for communicating this sort of communication, were public. Human nature.

            I’m glad my weird situation was insightful for someone. That’s sorta cool. 🙂

  10. This is an item I have thought about doing but up to this point have not started. Currently we do a weekly staff meeting, and daily huddle meetings and discuss basically these same items. So i have went back and forth on trying to decide if I should replace the daily check-in meeting with a weekly report or do both. Any thoughts?

    1. What if you asked your team? Do you and they feel there is value in doing the daily check-in? Would it be more efficient to do a weekly report? More efficient to maintain the daily huddle?

      One advantage I see for the reports: it’s on paper/e-mail/digital document – that creates more accountability both for you to your team, and your team to you. Just thinking with you on this…

      1. About 6 months ago, I did check on the value of the daily meeting and they did like it and want to keep it going. But I didn’t offer the weekly report as alternative, which I am almost thinking I like better.

        1. Or are both an option? I don’t think the weekly report, if structured well, need be long or time consuming. What if they had to answer one or two questions in less than a paragraph. I don’t know.

          Just thinking: never underestimate the power of a social connection. (Have you ever read that case study about a company that removed their water cooler areas to make their office space more efficient? Their productivity plummeted, and they couldn’t figure out why. After long detective work, they discovered that the water cooler was actually where employees talked and exchanged ideas, solved problems etc. The water cooler came back, and productivity returned.)

          Moral: make sure your huddles aren’t your company’s water coolers. ?

  11. All really great points. And I like what Bob W said earlier today about “communication being such an elusive but critical component of success.” For me personally and my team, it is so critical to our success that it makes more sense to operate in ‘real time’. While I completely agree that a weekly summary is beneficial, I struggle to remember what I had for breakfast some days. It’s proven to be much more accurate and productive for us to maintain a policy that we clock in/out under specific job codes and if notes are necessary they are inputted at that time. We all operate under the same process – from the CEO to IT to Marketing to Development – which I think helps minimize the trust issue with employees.

  12. The thing that weekly reports did for me as a leader was it gave my team members a non-time bound, open forum to share in an easy to follow format that I could go over at my leisure on the weekend. There was no expectation that I would necessarily take action on any items but I got a full picture of their projects and things that are going right and wrong.

    Our weekly one-on-one meetings usually covered these but were more focused on relationship building. Those were on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The weeklies filled in the end of the week.

  13. I think I like the idea, but I have to confess that I’m somewhat hesitant to jump right in on this one. I work for one of the biggest companies in the world, and we are a huge process and procedure driven organization. As a department, we are doing our best to cut through the process red tape, so I’m wondering if another report would seem like the straw that breaks the camels back for my team.

    1. My case is under development, but I’m leaning on the simple is beautiful approach:
      Two questions:

      1. What objectives that were assigned to you did you accomplish this week?

      2. High/Lows from the week.

      I think the simpler, the better your team will take it on. I mean, they are busy. I know my guys are….and I know I am too. (I’ll be filling out one of these things for my leadership team to keep me accountable)

      I think 2 questions won’t kill my day. You just gotta think about the best questions to ask. For me…the above works. What about you? What would you like to know about your team’s progress?

    2. Have you attended any of the Entre Series? They had one in the back of the book to show an example. If not, I can send you mine.

        1. Jon,

          I have several KRA and a weekly report example still if you would like for me to email. If so, let me know where to send it.  Thanks!
          Kelly Tewson

          TEWSON, INC.
          Dba: Tewson Landscape Co.
          PO Box 770431
          Winter Garden, FL 34777

          Billing questions: Kelly 407-242-5525
          Service Questions: Jonathan 407-810-8722

          Sent from Kelly’s Samsung Galaxy Note® II

          ——– Original message ——–

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