This weekly email can increase your success

Over the years I’ve experienced many methods of managers keeping tabs on how things are going with each team member. One that worked especially well with a distributed team is the weekly status email containing a simple list. It was short enough that the program lead could review a dozen or so emails and get an idea of the state of her department, but not too short that she couldn’t take action where needed, especially in removing obstacles to success.

The status report included a simple list of two areas:

Top accomplishments – list of 3 to 5 accomplishments for the week. Either things completed, sales made, items published, meetings held, whatever it was that moved the project or program forward that week. This was great as it helped each team member focus on moving their project forward and it also became a bit of a game to see who could have the most impressive list. We limited it to 5 so that people didn’t measure success by the number of accomplishments, but rather the impact and important of those accomplishments.

Of course sometimes there were less than 5 accomplishments and more things were actually getting in the way. So we also included our Top obstacles – the 3 to 5 things that were holding you back from moving things forward or adding things to the accomplished list. We had to make sure these were things that were true obstacles – something that the project leader or manager could help remove (as was their role).

I took this format and used it in many of my own projects and programs even after leaving the team. But of course I had to add my own flavor. I realized, as a coach, that there was something missing. The reports become even more powerful when a third item was added: what do you need to be successful?

Adding the power of coaching to this weekly review helps to create a more powerful relationship between team members. Each member would include not only their accomplishments and obstacles, but also the most important  1 to 3 things they need to be successful in the coming weeks.

This one addition to the weekly report shifted the power and responsibility of success to the individual team members. Instead of the manager or project leader having to guess at what was needed, or spend time deciphering the obstacles as it related to the individuals’ work styles, the indie professional would think about their needs and clearly make a request.

Try this with your team. Even if you are a team of one, you can complete this review for yourself. That’s what I often do when I’m working on solo projects. Here’s an example of one that I’ve completed for my own work:

Top Accomplishments

  1. Project RedTalk: Researched speaker topic for client and created key points document.
  2. Project AnnuityOne: Outline complete.
  3. Project Extend: Agreement signed, work scheduled.
  4. Project Cohort: Nothing this week
  5. Project SAID: Conversation with stakeholder confirming shared vision.

Top Obstacles

  1. Project RedTalk: none.
  2. Project AnnuityOne: higher priority activities & lack of focus causing timeline to slip.
  3. Project Extend: Date conflict with Project Cohort
  4. Project Cohort: Date conflict with Project Extend
  5. Project SAID: Postponed decision places timeline in jeopardy

Top Needs for Success

  1. Project RedTalk: Reminders to follow-up.
  2. Project AnnuityOne: Break down into smaller tasks / blocks off time that fit into an agile calendar.
  3. Project Extend: Schedule time to learn content.
  4. Project Cohort: Reschedule conflicted date. Allow time to review materials.
  5. Project SAID:  Signed agreement and start date.

It just so happens that when I was writing this status report I had exactly 5 active projects and therefore chose to report on the top item for each project in each category. It doesn’t always work out so cleanly and there are often conflicts for resources (namely me!) – I’m sure you experience that all too often.

As indie and anywhereWORKERS we need to continually try new ways of staying both connected and productive. This tool helps you to stay connected to your team and it helps you to stay creatively productive!