My Sons' Status Reports

Like many parents I am very interested in the lives my children lead at school. My three boys are in the 2nd grade, kindergarten, and pre-K. As you might expect the standard response to the question "What did you do at school today?" is "I don't remember". Even if I ask specific questions I get one word responses. But I've got great news, I get weekly status reports on what my boys are doing at school. It's called the Wednesday folder. Every Wednesday they come home with a folder full of their work from the previous week. It's terrific, I get to see everything they've done and we get to sit down and talk about it.

As a manager, I find that nothing causes employees to roll their eyes quite like a request for a status report. But just like Wednesday folders, they are a great tool for a manager and a team to share information. Nothing quite replaces the quality of information that can be exchanged in a 1-on-1 or in casually touching base, but status reports go a long way towards complementing these regular touch points. A status report is a great way for a person to tell their manager what they worked on that week that is of importance. I ask my engineers to share their accomplishments (what's done), good news (what significant breakthrough has occurred), bad news (what obstacles are standing in the way), and regular status (what else is of interest) on a bi-weekly basis. I then take the time to summarize these reports in writing (heck I'm already doing it mentally) and then send this summary back to the team. This is a very important step because it helps the team gain some perspective on the efforts of their peers as well as to put their efforts into the larger context of what the team is working towards. Finally, this summary represents a mental map of where we as a team currently stand that enables us to better inform others, negotiate requirements, etc.

As a parent and as a manager, staying informed is critical to my job and whether its Wednesday folders, or weekly status reports, a regular summary goes a long way towards helping me and the team.

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