I'm having trouble figuring out how to get regular status updates from one of my directs. He is in a sales support role, and in project roles. Currently, he is not providing me regular updates on existing work assignments, or informing me about new assignments, except when asked directly. Some of his meetings and follow up deliverables are assigned by other people (sales staff or customers) without my knowledge. Some of the deliverables have deadlines, and others are back burner items with no deadline to accommodate ad-hoc urgent customer requests.

Following the feedback model, I don't know if this is related to him not sending updates; or other's behavior (requesting work) or my behavior I am stressed when I don't know what customers are requesting and impact on other work streams.   

Perhaps the problem isn't feedback, it's the working model. Perhaps i should be delegating work items differently or setting different expectations for how we should work together.


buhlerar's picture

You could easily give feedback on this behavior (this is not non-behavior).  "When you don't provide status updates on project x until I specifically ask for it, I don't have the information I need and our department looks bad when delays happen..."  Non-behavior would be "When you don't care about status updates" or "when you have a bad attitude about status updates."  You don't know if he cares or has a bad attitude, all you can say for sure is he's not giving you the updates, so stick with the concrete behaviors.

So in my opinion this is easy to give feedback about.  However, before you give him feedback you might want to define what exactly you really want.  I don't particularly feel the need to have my directs report to me about every single thing they are working on.  Of course I don't want to be blindsided by a problem, but I'm perfectly happy to have other groups send tasks to my directs and if they take care of it I don't need to know all the details.

Another thing you might do before feedback is just ask in a one-on-one for them to give you regular status updates.  "I'd like you to send me status updates twice a week or as soon as you foresee any problems" or whatever you're looking for.  Then if they don't do it, it's easy to turn to feedback.

While I agree too little feedback is given to directs (I'm guilty), no one said 100% of manager communication had to be feedback.

STEVENM's picture

I wouldn't give feedback in the MT style (though I don't think it'd be the end of the world if you did.  Feedback is pretty "Breezy") before I'd given explicit instructions on a reporting structure that would make me happy.  You can't really blame him for his communication habits if you've not yet directed him down the path that will work for you.  So my own take would be to try and set something up that will put you at ease first.  Come up with a plan, then bring it up in your 10 of the 03.  See if he thinks it's doable.

Also, try to be accomodating with it.  Reaction-based role, new things being thrown at him at all times from many directions.  Sounds like my time in IT support.  To translate it into that, he should tell you if the website is down or the database servers died.  And he should do that right away.  Those are big issues.  But if you expect him to communicate a lot of the "it's not on fire" stuff asap you'll have put him on a workout plan running back and forth to your desk.  Maybe set up daily checkpoints.  "Do you think you could give me an update every day at 11 and 2?  Just a quick list of what you're tackling and new assigned items today.  If I need more information I'll follow up."

mattpalmer's picture

 Kind of eerie to get two forum topics on opposite sides of the same problem at almost the same time...

It'd be kind of neat to be able to solve both sides at once, though.  :-)