Performance: Engage your team with a weekly update

Ok, so you’re swamped. No, you’re buried. Everyone needs you. You’ve got too many deadlines creeping up on you. Your team feels disconnected from you and you from them.

There is limited time to connect in a meaningful way with your direct reports. They feel frustrated and are growing disenchanted with you as their manager. Your team is pretty certain you don’t value them anymore because you don’t take the time to connect with them. You don’t ask their opinions, or take the time to hear about their progress, or even their struggles.

So when you are absolutely swamped and you’ve started to lose it, what do you do to begin to reconnect with your team in a meaningful way?

After all, you’ve morphed into someone you’re not. The reason you have become a manager was because you have excellent relationship skills, and historically, people have enjoyed working with and for you. But over time, your responsibilities and pressures have grown, and you need to find a way to reconnect with your team.

Brace yourself though, we all know that reconnecting can be tricky and complex. Therefore, the solution is also a bit complex as well … NOT!

It’s easier than you think   

The weekly update is an easy way to reconnect with your team. It’s also an easy and quick way for a manager to get up to speed each and every week on issues impacting their teams’ successes and performance shortfalls.

Here’s how it works. The Weekly Update Report asks direct reports to respond to the following every Friday by end of business:

1.    Key performance measures (on or off track, explain negative variances).

2.    Major accomplishments and performance shortfalls for the week.

3.    Critical goals/objectives for the upcoming week.

4.    Comments, concerns, suggestions (provide a brief narrative regarding issues needing attention).

Think consistency and think process

This is nothing more than a simple communication process applied consistently. The goal is to create awareness and a connected work environment all in support of achieving departmental and organizational goals. My use of the Weekly Update Report was simple.  

By end of business every Friday I would have the Weekly Update Report in my e-mail box summarizing the past week’s issues from each of my direct reports. And since I’m an early riser, I would read the weekly updates Saturday morning before my family woke up.

The goal for the author of the Weekly Update Report is to spend no more than 15 minutes drafting a meaningful update. Additionally, it should take no more than five minutes to read each report. If a manager has six direct reports, it will take no more than 30 minutes of reading to get caught up and/or briefed on key issues affecting the success within the department or company. If negative variances from performance expectations exist, the author of the report is expected to explain why the variance occurred, and what was required to get back on track. This process also enabled me to be fully prepared to ask, answer and address key issues in our Monday morning manager meetings.

I hear from people all the time about feeling disconnected from their manager, while at the same time the manager feels there is no need for increased contact. This is obviously a disconnect that causes frustration, negatively impacts morale and employee engagement, and can even be the cause of good people leaving the team.

Again, the weekly update process is a simple one that ultimately supports the goal of fully leveraging the intellectual capital on the team. It’s a means of reconnecting and engaging the team emotionally as well. For a sample report, go to my web site and then to the Articles tab. I will post an example of a Weekly Summary Report.

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