Leaders often get caught up with their own daily responsibilities. While the time deficit is becoming more pressing and the team’s needs are growing, there is one simple change to implement that makes your employees feel heard and improve your decision-making.
If there are few things we can’t change, its these facts that:
- There are 1440 minutes in everyone’s day. Not a minute more and not a minute less.
- There is a tidal wave of information and it keeps on growing.
Therefore, with the limited amount of time and the huge amount of data, how to spot the most crucial information with minimum effort?
It’s about asking the right questions and getting the necessary information for your everyday decision-making. You probably already have a world-class team, now you need a world class communication and collaboration process.
One such method is called the PPP process, or sometimes referred as the Progress, Plans and Problems. It is used by companies like Skype and eBay for recurring status reporting. As Cleve Gibbon, CTO at Cognifide has said:
“PPP reports communicate three essential facts about an ongoing project: progress, problems and plans. These are both informal and informative”
– Cleve Gibbon, CTO at Cognifide – The Power of P
So, which are the three essential questions to ask from your team-members weekly?
1. What are your biggest achievements for the past week?
This part reflects the first P in the PPP process – the progress. These are your employees’ individual accomplishments for the period ending. This section is something your employees should be most proud of by containing activities that are directed towards future goals. In order to have an overall picture, it’s crucial that everyone limits their answers to key achievements.
2. What are you going to do next?
This part communicates the future plans, or the second P if you may. These are the objectives for the next reporting period. Activities, tasks or items that need to be done and moved to progress. Writing these key activities down is crucial for every team-member, since it makes the executor committed to the task. In the long run, it’s all about the ability to prioritize and carry your plans through.
3. What challenges are you facing?
The third P, problems, communicate the tasks or items that your employees have planned, but aren’t able to finish. In an open and trustworthy environment, this is the perfect part for feedback and guidance. When team members are encouraged to answer this question honestly, it creates an amazing opportunity to spot the disasters before they escalade. So, don’t fire away with harsh comments, instead listen and recognize these brave people.
How to get maximum benefit out of these questions?
Asking these questions is easy, but in order to get actionable data and great overview, a more thorough procedures are required.
Overall, there are various methods how you could put PPP work for your team. First option is to ask every team member send a weekly email that includes answers to these three questions. This is the quickest solution, yet it fails to give a good overview of the whole team. Secondly, you could make one spreadsheet for individual use. But as the information compiles period after period, it gets harder to manage the data and tougher to spot the key learnings. What is more, as the time passes people might forget to update their plans, progress and problems on time. The third solution is to use an online status reporting tool, like Weekdone, that is based on the PPP system. The advantage is that each week, you get automatically compiled report bringing the crucial data together and keeping you always in the loop.
Whichever way you choose to go, it’s important to stay persistent and ask these valuable questions on a regular base. Make a pleasurable habit out of it and not an annoying duty by giving feedback to your employees based on their reports. This will make them feel heard and that their progress truly matters.
Author bio: Külli Koort is the marketing director of Weekdone, a startup that builds employee status reporting tool based on popular management methodologies like PPP and OKR. You can connect with her and the Weekdone team on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.