What 10 Years of Managing Teams Taught Me | Effective People Management Through Reporting
Managing people is hard.
I’ve been continually trying to master people management skills for over 10 years now, and one I know I’ll be working on throughout the rest of my professional life.
Thankfully, many business leaders of old have shared their team management best practices and made it easier than ever to learn and grow. As Isaac Newton said, “If I’ve seen further, it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants!”.
Today, I’d like to share with you one of my top people management tips: How To Structure Weekly Reports from Division Managers, and How to Get the Most Out of Them.
I didn’t come up with it myself. I learnt it from the book High Output Management, written by Andrew Grove, the former CEO of Intel. I think it’s one of the best management books ever written – and I’m not the only one who thinks so.
These weekly reports are written by our company’s division heads (Head of Marketing, Head of Operations, Head of Writing, etc.) and sent to me every Friday. They’re crucial in allowing us to avoid problems, track performance, and GROW.
I’m going to break down our weekly report piece by piece, and show you how it’s so effective.
Top Tips for Effective People Management (Through Reporting)
- Use Key Metrics
- Assess Commentary on Metrics
- Look at Tasks Completed & Issues Faced
- Prioritising Next Steps
Use Key Metrics
Every weekly report opens with metrics related to that manager’s division.
- The Head of Marketing’s report will start with that week’s website visitor traffic, the number of blogposts published, etc.
- The Head of Operations’ report will open with the week’s sales figures, order numbers, leads, etc.
By clearly measuring and reporting the key business metrics up front, we get an instant insight into where we stand as a company.
To quote the legendary business coach Peter Drucker, “What gets measured, gets managed”.
More importantly, these metrics also act as a transparent performance dashboard for the manager. Simply by gathering these numbers, the manager immediately becomes aware of their own division’s performance.
As a result, I almost never need to have difficult conversations about a manager’s performance – They already know exactly where they stand.
This means our weekly check-in calls can focus on problem solving and strategy, instead of time wasted discussing the manager’s performance.
*Be careful though – it’s very easy to get tempted by metrics, and include too many to effectively monitor. Too much data can distract, confuse, and drown both the manager and you.
Focus at most on the top 3 key metrics which drive business performance for that unit.
Assess Commentary On Metrics
Once we’ve established our metrics, the manager then gives me their view on why these numbers are what they are.
As a CEO, it’s impossible for me to know exactly what’s happening on the ground across all business units. By seeking the manager’s perspective, I can get a better idea as to why our metrics may be moving in a particular direction (positive or negative).
The quality of the manager’s commentary also gives me a strong indicator of how “plugged in” they are to the business.
If a manager is consistently unsure why a particular metric is moving in the direction it is, that’s an early warning sign that they may no longer be sufficiently motivated, or could not be up to the task at hand.
Identify Tasks Completed & Issues Faced (if any)
Having managers provide a quick overview of the tasks their division completed that week lets me know if we’re on track or falling behind with our current projects and goals.
More important however are the issues they’ve overcome or are still tackling.
The less issues a manager has, the more productive they can be. The more productive they are, the quicker the company can move forward.
It’s therefore my job to do whatever I can to help clear issues (whether that’s providing new ideas and suggestions, or lending a hand directly).
Reporting issues also allows us to identify and eliminate unwanted trends. For example, if a manager is consistently being held up by the same kinds of problems (eg. IT issues), it’s a sign that we may need to rework our current systems/processes in that area, or that they may need more resources or training.
Prioritizing Next Steps
This is the part I struggle with most – prioritising next tasks.
However, it’s also vitally important.
I’m an ideas man, and I’m always coming up with new projects and opportunities my team and I can explore together! I want to jump them all to the top of the priority queue – which is really disruptive to my managers.
It’s critical that projects be run in a calm and collected manner. Calmness and clarity reverberates down from the top. To keep a company running efficiently, you need to be clear on your roadmap, and ruthless in prioritising the right projects.
The best managers I’ve seen are laser focused on this. They excel at keeping their teams on the same page, everyone pulling in the same direction, everyone chasing the right goal.
Here’s a great example of this, from Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook:
In the early days of Facebook, one manager wanted to start running ads on the platform – they saw an opportunity to monetise it.
Zuckerberg though, intuitively understood that growth was the more important metric to chase.
He knew that for its network effects to kick in, Facebook had to gain majority market share. Once they had that critical mass of market share, and a defensible network effect, then they could start to monetise the user base.
It’s this kind of clarity of thought and clear vision from the top that helps companies grow well.
Ask practically any manager, and they’ll tell you their biggest challenge is running their team. Team management skills are something that you build up over time, and very rarely are people gifted with effective team management skills to begin with.
By instituting initiatives like these weekly reporting structures however, we’ve been able to keep ResumeWriter humming along really nicely. Managing remote teams is especially hard, but we’re improving our processes every day.
We’re still miles from where we want to be, and there’s tons of growth left ahead, but I sleep easier at night knowing our infrastructure is in place to guide us 🙂
What about you – how does your team manage itself? What are some of your own people management best practices? How did you hone your people management skills?
Share your thoughts with us at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.
This article was authored by Harry, CEO, ResumeWriter Asia.
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