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Why Progress Reports are Killing Your Organisation and What You Should Do Instead!
Ah, status and progress reporting. The tradition that everyone loves to hate. It’s supposed to keep management informed about what’s going on, but let’s be real – it’s mostly just a waste of time.
Here are the problems with status reporting as it’s typically done:
Watermelon reporting (Green on outside, red inside): "Watermelon reporting is an unfortunate reality in many organizations where status reports are green on the outside, but red on the inside, masking real issues and problems." (Clarizen, 2019)
Low value: "Status reports are of little value, as they tend to be reactive rather than proactive, and don't provide a clear picture of what's really happening." (QuickBase, 2021)
Costly to create and read: "Status reports can be expensive to produce, and can also be time-consuming to read and understand." (Business Queensland, 2021)
Lack of transparency: "Status reports often lack transparency, making it difficult to understand what's really happening on a project or within a team." (Clarizen, 2019)
Longevity short: "Status reports often have a short shelf-life and are quickly forgotten or overlooked." (QuickBase, 2021)
Lowered understanding: "Status reports can be too technical and difficult to understand, leading to lowered engagement and disinterest in the report's contents." (Clarizen, 2019)
Cause delays: "Status reports can cause delays in decision making, as they may not provide timely information or a clear call to action." (Clarizen, 2019)
Ineffective communication: "Status reports are often ineffective means of communication, failing to convey the necessary information to all parties involved." (Business Queensland, 2021)
Ambiguous -authors not writing experts: "Status reports can be ambiguous and unclear, as the authors may not be experts in the subject matter." (Clarizen, 2019)
Lack of engagement: "Status reports often lack engagement, as they tend to be too formal or too technical for most people to find interesting or relevant." (QuickBase, 2021)
Unidirectional flow of information: "Status reports tend to be a one-way flow of information, lacking any opportunity for discussion or feedback." (Clarizen, 2019)
Most people don't read: "Most people don't read status reports, finding them to be tedious and irrelevant." (QuickBase, 2021)
Ineffective, compared to conversations: "Status reports are often ineffective compared to conversations, which can be more engaging and provide more context." (Clarizen, 2019)
Too formal: "Status reports can be too formal and structured, lacking any personality or engagement." (QuickBase, 2021)
Too technical: "Status reports can be too technical and jargon-heavy, making them difficult for non-experts to understand." (Clarizen, 2019)
Reactive, not proactive: "Status reports are often reactive rather than proactive, failing to provide a clear picture of what's really happening." (QuickBase, 2021)
Biased to the author: "Status reports can be biased and present a falsely positive picture of progress." (Business Queensland, 2021)
Too vague: "Status reports can be too vague and lacking in detail, leaving team members unsure of what's really happening." (Clarizen, 2019)
Focus on activities rather than outcomes: "Status reports tend to focus on activities rather than outcomes, failing to provide a clear picture of progress." (QuickBase, 2021)
Lack of call to action: "Status reports often lack a clear call to action, leaving team members unsure of what to do next." (Clarizen, 2019)
Disengage audience: "Status reports can be disengaging, failing to capture the interest and attention of the intended audience." (Business Queensland, 2021)
Delayed decision making: "Status reports can cause delayed decision making, as team members may not have access to timely or relevant information." (QuickBase, 2021)
As someone who's been in business for many decades, I know how important it is to stay up-to-date with what's happening in your business. It's crucial to be kept in the loop and have a deep understanding of what's going on.
But traditional status reports often fail to provide that understanding. In my experience, they have little benefit and can be a costly and time-consuming way to stay informed. It's time to move away from the traditional management view of simply passing information around and toward a more proactive leadership approach that empowers teams to succeed.
Not actively engaging in managing your business and relying on status reporting is a surefire way to lead to killing your business. It promotes a lack of accountability, missed opportunities, and decreased productivity, which can significantly impact the success of a business.
It's time to move away from traditional status reports and embrace a new way of doing things that emphasizes active leadership and engagement. As a leader, your role is not to simply manage by reporting, but to actively lead your team to success.
To do this, you need to be engaged with your team and have a deep understanding of what's happening in your business. This means building trust with your team, understanding their pains and struggles, and finding out the real problems that are holding them back.
One way to do this is through short, regular chats and conversations with your team. These conversations can help you gain a deeper understanding of what's really going on and identify opportunities for improvement. By taking an active interest in your team and their work, you can build stronger relationships and create a more collaborative work environment.
As a leader, your role is to use your leadership position to relate to people, help them succeed, and steer your team to success. This means moving away from managing by reporting and toward leading by engaging. By talking with your team and reading between the lines, you can gain a deeper understanding of what's really happening and how you can help.
In the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, "A good captain needs abilities more than resources. His strength is his knowledge of the situation, and from that, he can find a solution." As a leader, you are the captain at the helm, steering your team to success. So, let's stop sitting in our dark and dingy offices reading status reports and start actively engaging with our teams to create a more collaborative, successful work environment.
Please share your views, experiences and thoughts in the comments
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