The job of the team manager is to aggregate reports from team members – not filter. I believe that filtering is the job of the director and above. Corrections such as clarifying, correcting typos and merging redundant items are acceptable.
The report must clearly and concisely communicate team accomplishments, plans, critical issues, planned absence. At the same time, the report should be complete and detailed by providing detailed accounts of individual activities of each team member. Let’s take a look at an example.
You can download this example in PDF format here.
The weekly report is aggregated by opening each individual report in sequence and cutting-and-pasting text from each section to the corresponding section in the team weekly as explained below.
This section lists accomplished work and good news. Normally, the manager compiles the contents by simply cutting-and-pasting items from individual contributor reports. Make sure that the work is accomplished – not work in progress.
|Measuring product performance||Product performance report released|
|Working on module debug||Module debug finished|
Reporting accomplishments makes the report clear and concise by de-emphasizing routine details. Also, focusing on accomplishments demonstrates to your team by way of example that the manager and the organization itself are result-oriented.
Note that each item in the highlights section specifies names in parenthesis of who accomplished that work. The biggest contributor is named first. Specifying names positively motivates achievers by showing their names prominently.
Encourage the use of hyperlinks, such that reports and documentation can be easily accessed by anyone reading the report.
- Unexpected Problems
This section is for bad, unexpected news. Normally, the manager simply cuts-and-pastes Unexpected Problems from individual contributor reports.
- Critical issues
This section alerts the upper management about issues that require immediate attention. Similar to highlights and unexpected problems, the team manager typically compiles this section by cutting-and-pasting critical issue items from individual contributor report. The manager should also add any items of his own when appropriate.
- Individual Activities
The first three sections of the report together comprise an executive summary. The individual activities section goes into comprehensive details that the upper manager is not expected to always read – at least not right way. For example, this section can be useful for the team manager or director to find out which team member is overloaded, who has free time and should be assigned additional project, who performs well and which task and who has difficulties. We will discuss purposes for this section at length in a later article.
The team manager compiles the individual activities section by cutting-and-pasting “This week” sections from individual contributor reports. In addition, the team manager should also include his own individual report in the “This week” and “Next week plan” sections, especially when the manager is contributing individually part-time.
Again, encourage the use of hyperlinks, such that reports and documentation can be easily accessed by anyone reading the report.
- Next week plan
This section servers several purposes:
- gives the team lead an understanding about what to expect over the next reporting
- serves as acknowledgement of work requests to team members. If someone was requested to do something with some urgency, that request should be reflected in the next week plan.
Similar to the the section above, the manager cuts-and-pastes text from “Next week plan” sections of individual contributor reports and adds his own item as well.
- Planned absence
Here the team lead aggregates planned absences from team member reports and adds company holidays. The purpose is to avoid surprise staff absence at the most inopportune time.
Addressing Team Report
The team report should be sent to
- Your upper manager(s) and project manager(s) if applicable
- Your team
- Leads of collaborating teams interested in receiving your teams’ reports
You should not send reports to
- Temporary personnel
- Staff who has tendered resignation
- Recipients prohibited by corporate security regulations
- Individual contributors of collaborating teams without their manager’s permission
- Collaborating team’s lead himself should forward your weekly to that team. Sending your weekly directly to other manager’s direct reports without that manager permission sometimes may be perceived as a violation or reporting structure.
Individual reports should be attached to the team lead weekly. These attached reports may be helpful in case of a mistake or omission in the weekly by providing the original issue information.
Team Report Writing Do’s and Don’ts
Do not use reports as blame press. Write and edit the unexpected problems and critical issues sections with extra care. Do be diplomatic – avoid mentioning names when reporting negative news. For example, if firmware team is lagging behind with their firmware release: “Need firmware release“, rather than “Firmware team has not released firmware”.
- Brevity and clarity
Do report concisely yet clearly. Do edit highlights, unexpected problems and critical issues copied from individual contributor reports to make them easy to understand by the top management.
- Completeness and Fairness
Take your time to write a report. Don’t miss anything and be fair.
Do you use English when working with international multi-language teams. Another suitable common language could be used, however English is strongly recommended in any case – imagine that new team members will join later who don’t speak the language you chose for reporting and they need to read old reports. See Troubleshooting Weekly Reports for more details.
- Revised reports
Do avoid sending modified weekly reports after publishing the original. Sending a revised report is acceptable if the original contains a substantial mistake, especially if you made the mistake yourself. This shows that you strive to be fair, objective and thorough. In case when a team member sends his report late, don’t wait for it. See the article about Troubleshooting Weekly Reports for more details.