Why do it?
Imagine never having to wonder where things stand with a direct report’s project, never feeling caught off guard by a status question from your boss, and never needing to chase down information. A well-defined status update system can make that a reality. By establishing clear expectations about the information you (and your team) need and solid routines to get it, you’ll boost transparency and save everyone a lot of time and trouble.
How to do it:
- Identify and select a method and schedule of communication that works well for your team.
Some teams communicate best through quick conversations, while others prefer email or a shared document. Some recurring ways to share updates could include:
- Daily standup meetings
- A communal scoreboard/project tracker updated on Fridays
- Weekly email updates sent on Tuesdays
- Determine the types of information that are most relevant for you and your direct reports to have in regular updates.
Consider also what information your boss, peers, and others outside your team regularly ask you about. Types of information may include progress to goals, obstacles and challenges, what’s going well, how teammates can help one another, or timing of what will happen next.
3. If you want written updates, create a template for your team.
Use your information list as a starting point. Your template could look like this (edit it as needed):
Here’s this week’s update:
- Progress for this (or last) week: I completed ____ on project ____, which moves me closer to goal ____. Kudos to [name(s) of team member(s)] for ____.
- This (or next) week I plan to accomplish:
Item 1. Deadline: [DATE]
Item 2. Deadline: [DATE]
Item 3. Deadline: [DATE]
- Concerns: I’m concerned about ____ because ____. I’m doing ____ to address this.
- How teammates can help: If you could ____ by [DATE], that will help me ____. Please let me know if that isn’t doable for you.
- Questions I have:
[direct report’s name]”
- Introduce the update idea to your team, ask for their feedback, and then implement.
At your next team meeting, explain why you’d like to introduce an update process, emphasizing what’s in it for them — greater visibility can lead to efficient team problem-solving and allows you to better protect their time, secure needed resources, and tout their progress and successes. Ask for and incorporate their ideas into the plan. Finally, after a few weeks, check in with your team and ask how the method has been working for them so you can make any necessary improvements.
Leading a team requires a different skillset than working as an individual contributor. To succeed in the face of new challenges, first-level leaders need to shift how they think and act. Download our latest guide and develop your people into a high-performing team.
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