Love them or hate them, weekly status reports are one of the easiest ways for leaders to improve team communication and engagement. Whether by email, powerpoint, or your favorite team communication tool, effective status reporting encourages team members to share their achievements and detail plans for the week ahead. Yes, it takes a few minutes. But like any good collaboration tax, a strong status reporting process will pay for itself in shared understanding and alignment.
As you think about your team’s existing practices (or if you’re about to request status updates from your team for the first time), a few good habits can help you get the most from the process. These include:
- Putting everything in writing
- Focusing on what really matters
- Sharing with the entire team
- Reading the team’s reports
- Giving constructive feedback
- Building accountability
Let’s see how those play out.
1. Putting your status report in writing
What’s more fun than calling a meeting to taking turns to share what you did this week, what she did this week, and so on around the circle? Rather than a half-attentive audience trying to remember what they did on the fly, a written update lets everyone read and review each others’ work on whatever schedule’s easiest for them. Better yet, it also makes it easy to recall the team's work, commitments, and achievements in future conversations.
2. Focusing your status report on what really matters
Focusing your reader's attention on the truly important moments in the week means writing the most concise, useful report you can imagine. There’s a natural tendency to detail every last meeting, call, and email, and focus, but the noise will make it harder to pick out a clear signal. Share what you accomplished—not everything you did—and encourage everyone else to do the same!
3. Sharing your status report with the team
Leaders know the importance of modeling positive behavior. Instead of burying your report in a Friday-afternoon email to your boss, share it with the team. Seeing what you're up to every week will encourage the rest of the team to share reports of their own, which may inspire further, productive conversations about the team's priorities and progress.
4. Reading your team members’ status reports
Instead of burying your report in a Friday-afternoon email to your boss, share it with the team. Leaders know how important it is to model behaviors and expectations, and seeing what you're up to will encourage the rest of the team to share reports of their own. A routine, visible report is also a great opportunity to recognize extraordinary efforts and to invite feedback on anything you might have forgotten.
5. Giving constructive feedback
Reading your team’s status reports is a great way to gain perspective on their concerns, aims, and intentions. Even better is to respond to each report with thoughtful coaching or feedback. If someone went above and beyond, a status report can help the team recognize their achievement. If a deadline is slipping, a status report can provide the insight and context needed to get it back on track.
6. Holding your team accountable
While status reports keep everyone looped into what the team is up to, it’s up to you and the rest of the team to hold one another to account. Read the updates and give feedback where appropriate, but always follow up. If someone updated a goal or proposed a course correction, did it work? If not, what changes need to happen to make sure that issues are addressed in the future?
Weekly status reports are a great way to build transparency and alignment improving team communication. In return for a few minutes to write, read, and follow up each week, you and your team gain visibility and new opportunities to engage in constructive dialogue. You’re already doing the work. What are you waiting for? Go tell your team!