Effective Communication within a Team

by Greg Skloot
Status Reports   |   5 Min Read
status updates

When a team of people working together is moving fast and accomplishing a lot, there is an important ingredient needed within a team to perform: effective communication. As people work to accomplish goals, there are often new issues that come up and require attention, such as:

When someone is confused or needs help, they get stuck and their project gets blocked. This is where regular communication comes in. If you’ve established a rhythm of a “communication checkpoint,” that is, a specific time of the day or week where everyone has a clear opportunity to communicate issues or changes and get feedback, each member of your team can operate at their best.

That “communication checkpoint” is more commonly known as a status update. These status updates are simple and easy – typically a quick written recap of the status of a project, what problems you are encountering and what your next steps are. Status updates are one of the best tools for effective communication within a team. Here are some best practices to get started with status updates:

1. Automate the process

If status updates become a hassle, people won’t do them. Consider using a tool like Weekly Update to automatically collect reports from your team each day, week or month. The tool includes automatic reminders, trackable history and team members do it all from their email with no need to create an account or download an app.

2. Share progress, problems and plans

A time-tested formula for good status updates is the 3 P’s: progress of what happened, problems encountered and plans for what is happening next. You can put your own unique twist on this, and replace “Progress” with “Top Objectives” or any other word your team uses.

3. Keep them written, not in meetings

Always keep status updates in written form. Sharing status updates in meetings is a classic time waster, and people often don’t remember what was discussed if it’s not written down. Follow the golden rule: “if it’s not written down, it didn’t happen.”

Shorter meetings. Real accountability.
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4. Don’t be secretive – make them visible to everyone

Status updates are often used to keep projects transparent. By keeping relevant stakeholders CCed on your status updates, they can be kept in the loop without any additional work.

5. Use them for keeping the team aligned on goals

When each person on your team shares a status update, it confirms that they are working on projects that align with your stated goals and objectives for the current week. If someone’s status update indicates they are working on something different, it’s a great opportunity for the manager to initiate a discussion and get the employee back on track.

6. Hold each person accountable for what they write

Finally, getting status updates in writing creates a written record of accountability. If someone indicates their plans for the current week include “launch the social media marketing campaign” and 1 week later, the campaign isn’t launched, it’s very clear that the person has not followed through on their commitments, and it’s now your role as the manager to figure out why.

Status updates are a fantastic tool for managers and teams to facilitate better communication and build a habit of alignment on goals, transparency on progress and accountability for results.

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