You’re the leader of a busy team, and you’re responsible for making sure that your team members are productive and efficient in their work. One of the best ways to do this, research shows, is to deliver regular status updates on your team’s progress towards its goals, typically through short (less than five minutes), frequent (daily), relevant (applicable to more than one person) meetings where the status of each team member and each team goal are reviewed. If you want to learn more about how you can deliver effective team status updates, read on.
What are Status Updates?
Team status updates are a way for team members to keep each other informed about the current progress of their projects. They’re most often delivered in short, frequent, and relevant chunks.
Status updates can be formalized at a status update meeting or they may occur during weekly team meetings. Either way, they should be concise and relevant. The goal is to provide only the information that’s needed so that your team members can make the best decisions possible about how to move forward with their tasks.
If a certain task has been completed or if something has been done that’s different than originally planned, make sure your team knows about it. Each status update should focus on one specific issue. If there are many issues being worked on simultaneously in multiple parts of your company, be specific about which part of your business you’re referring to in each status report.
As you give status updates, make sure to cover what’s been done so far and what’s currently being worked on. It’s also important to outline a plan of action for how you’ll move forward. Think through these steps in detail before giving your team any information. It may seem obvious that everyone knows exactly where they are with their work and what needs to be done next but these details can easily get overlooked or glossed over during a status update meeting.
What Makes a Good Team Status Update?
Teams need to be clear about their progress on work in order to maintain team productivity. Poorly delivered status updates can lead to a variety of issues including team burnout. A good team status update should be short and concise, but informative. It should give the most relevant information for each project head. The ideal time for a status update meeting is every week or every two weeks depending on the size of the team.
Team members should understand that a formal status update meeting is an opportunity for them to share information about their projects. A good team status update should be kept short and provide details about goals met, challenges faced, impediments encountered, progress made, upcoming deadlines, specific tasks completed during the week of status report creation, and questions for other team members. The more relevant details you include in your updates every week will increase your chances of receiving feedback from other team members as well as building productive relationships with other members of your project teams.
There are a few things to take into account in order to get closer to the many advantages of excellent status updates.
1) Set the Purpose
A status update is an effective team communication tool that helps connect team members with project objectives rather than serving as a forum for idle conversation. You’re there to report on the state of your work, as the name would imply. Your meetings should therefore cover the following topics:
- Initial Review: The team should start by addressing any action items that already exist, as well as particular tasks with assignees and due dates. To create new goals, it is necessary to assess this progress. At the same time, a preliminary evaluation phase should cover potential hazards as well as problems that have impeded output. Debriefing can take place separately from the status meeting for people with serious problems.
- Project Summary: It’s time to evaluate project parameters, such as scope, timeline, budget, and quality after work updates have been provided. The team can adjust as needed to accomplish project objectives in light of any setbacks. This is also the logical time to assess any problems, which might have to do with the environment, other people, resources, or customer expectations.
- Next steps: The conversation should turn to the future once everyone is aware of how things stand up to the project plan and/or team lead expectations. It’s time to allocate some fresh action items. Those responsible should understand their new responsibilities and how finishing them will affect the project’s overall health. Some words of support would be helpful.
Although preferred meeting formats may differ between teams, it should be simple to recognize these essential components. Asking clearer and more understandable questions, such as
- Have project objectives been met?
- Do you require more assets?
- What obstacles are you facing?
2) Speak Clearly
Yes, status updates are required, but they are also a. Status updates are required, yes, but they’re also a fantastic way to include people, inspire them, and improve the production of your group. Sharing achievement encourages friendly rivalry, whereas being transparent about failure fosters a deeper sense of teamwork. Share your progress with others with real excitement, and show genuine empathy when someone else isn’t having a fantastic week.
To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” – Mark Twain, so we shouldn’t feel bad if we miss the objective. An excellent team leader understands the hidden worth of mistakes, ensuring that everyone always benefits from the errors of the few.
However, the team as a whole must endeavor to keep a supportive climate in order for people to be willing to expose their mistakes. You’ll be able to identify issues earlier and foster a more positive work environment if you make the weekly status update meeting a place where people feel comfortable speaking openly.
On the other hand, status updates are the ideal venue for praising your peers’ work. Research indicates that team appreciation is extremely beneficial for boosting motivation and morale. Even though many teams can express their gratitude via asynchronous work communications (Kudos! ), speaking it out in person is a terrific method to acknowledge achievement and makes status updates much more meaningful.
3) Create Visuals
It’s tough to mentally maintain track of a large group of people who are all working on various tasks. Visual components, such as job management software that makes use of central task boards and project timelines, can be used to make status updates more interesting.
Task lists are useful, but it’s hard to claim that they’re stimulating. Team members can monitor the status of numerous tasks simultaneously thanks to visual assistance. Use a Gantt chart as a tried-and-true model, or come up with something unique. Such tools are especially helpful for distant teams because it may be harder to arrange regular meetings there.
Additionally, there are more interactive possibilities, including Kanban cards. You’ll need a board (project) with matching cards (action items) and columns (stages) separated into it to put it up; alternatively, you can use a digital one. Tasks progress from left to right as they are partially finished. Although it doesn’t work for many teams, kanban can be a fantastic tool for those that value a dynamic, visual system.
4) Be Specific
Imagine that you receive an update from your project manager. You both know what you have to do, so you automatically exclaim, “Ah yes, I’m working on that!” Even though nothing has been stated, the novice manager shakes their head happily and leaves. If the manager then addresses the board with a similar lack of specificity, he will undoubtedly lose his job.
Clarity and precise information that benefits others and is informative are requirements for effective status updates. A key component of goal-setting is providing lots of specifics, and the same is true for status updates. Making your duties into smaller segments will make it simpler to communicate your progress to others.
Specific demands from leaders help teams stay more focused and help them create more productive agendas for status meetings. Instead of saying “X is progressing well,” one should say “X is in the penultimate stage, waiting on Y, scheduled to be done by,” which will involve the entire team. Knowing the precise status enables participants to set priorities and reallocate their efforts as necessary if one activity must be completed before another.
It is important for leaders to maintain consistency in providing status updates. Maintaining a consistent schedule will help ensure that each team member knows when they can expect a status update from the project head. For example, weekly team meetings should be followed by an individual status update meeting with the team member who was assigned the task of overseeing the project.