No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

With Reports, Less is More

I have a love-hate relationship with reports. On the one hand, I need some way to know how we’re doing. On the other, I cringe at the time other people spend creating those reports, and it’s easy to get bogged down in data. So I’ve come up with a few simple rules for when I want my team to report information to me.

* I only ask for information they have to collect anyway. Process data, work hours, stuff like that they already gather. Ambient temperature maybe they don’t, so if I want that I find a different source.
* I allow them to report in the format they already use. It’s better for me to adapt to their different styles than force them to transcribe data into my preferred format.
* I only ask for information that matters. I need to keep track of overtime hours because of expense tracking, but I don’t need to know if an employee is tardy. That’s for the supervisor to manage.
* I only ask for information I actually use. If I don’t use it when I get it, then I could better ask for it at the point I want it.

I’m convinced that most reports are at best only partially read, and even less used. You’ll do yourself and your team a huge service if you limit reporting only to what they know and control, and what you actually use to do your job.

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