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Submitted by poncho_57 on


I had to stop the podcast and write this email.

I think it was Urgency part 2 at the 5:30 mark.

"ask your folks to update you on a routine basis"

Hopefully the forum can optimize the email and it could be used on the website.

I can candidly say that what I have so far is good enough for me.

That said; it isn't up to MT standards yet.

Please take a look.

Tear it apart.

Post it as a resource when it's done if it seems reasonable to do so.

To be clear, I do not want you to write this email for me.

I get paid for that. I don't want to share my compensation with the forum :)

I post this only for the forum to have some fun shredding.


Start keeping track of projects by jotting down notes throughout the week.

Keep up with it daily.

Use stickies, a logbook, index cards, handwritten notes on email printouts or any combination of the above.

Use what works for you.

The daily notes are yours, I won't see them.

On a weekly basis condense all your notes and turn in a summary.

The summary needs to be something like this for each project:

Project 1
Topic -
Who -
When -
What -
How -
Next Step -

No, I don't want you to save up all your communication and try to replace our communication throughout the week with a single written summary.

Rather, use this tool to document our progress about:
A. Important things
B. Routine things
C. New things
D. Small things

Please email it to me before noon on Mondays starting next Monday.

No attachments please.

Once we get good at these I will cancel our Week in Review meeting on Tuesday mornings.

With anything new there will be some fine tuning.

I don't expect the first one to be perfect.

Give it your best shot.

Consider asking your key direct reports to do the same.

That may make it less time consuming.

Please stop by to discuss this before you get rolling.


There it is. Have at it.

- poncho

aspiringceo's picture

Hi Poncho

I have just 1 comment. In the body of the mail you say
[quote]Rather, use this tool to document our progress about:
A. Important things
B. Routine things
C. New things
D. Small things [/quote]

If this is the intended purpose, well you might consider 1on1's as they are great for getting this type of information.

I dont know if you've seen the 1on1's key points and template, you can view and download it here

Hope this helps

poncho_57's picture
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I am flattered you took the time to suggest that.

I started 1:1 meetings last week.

My intent in the email:
Start emailing me the information I need to have before I go speak in a my boss' team meeting.

The rest was just me being too long winded.

Some more context:
I review bits of information weekly with my peers and my boss at our Managers Meeting.

In the past my directs and I have used a 30 minute meeting to transfer this information from my direct reports to me.

The objective of the email was to get my folks collecting and organizing the data throughout the week.

Then once a week they email me what they’ve got.

If they can manage that, I will cancel the 30 minute meeting.

I think that is what they talked about in the podcast on urgency.

It was called passive … something.

The way I took it was, according to MT, I should get my directs to send me weekly updates.

They provide their info, and I don’t have to hunt them down to get the info I need to prepare me for my meeting with my peers and boss.

At a particular point in the podcast I heard a pretty clear recommendation to get these passive reports coming from my team.

So I did, with an email.

At least that was my intention.

My team knows what we talk about in our Week in Review meeting.

It is a meeting to get me up to the minute on the status of those things that my boss expects me to review with my peers in his meeting.

The fact that they had that background info and the fact that I offered to cancel our Week in Review meeting should help make my message clear to my team.

I've learned from your comment that context matters.

My original post lacked contextual elements.

Thanks very much,
- poncho

trandell's picture

A couple suggestions to fine tune your message

1. Consider cutting down on the whitespace. I notice in your postings that you have a lot of one sentence paragraphs. I think that is harder to read and it looks a bit choppy.

2. Starting off with how you need/want them to do this is a too blunt for my taste. You may put people off by launching right into the prescriptive directions. How about if you start off with a statement of the problem or issue you are seeking to resolve? For example:
Timely status reporting is important to our weekly routine and I notice we're not doing as good a job as we should on this. I meet with every Wednesday and am expected to present an overview of the team's work and progress. I need your notes by Tuesday at 11:00AM, so I can prepare the overview and make sure I represent the team and each of you well to . I put a lot of effort into this because regularly shares these notes at the senior management meeting, which is a great opportunity to give each of you exposure.

When your weekly notes are late I can not prepare my notes as well as I want to and you may miss an opportunity to have your accomplishments highlighted. That said, we're going to work on this and make it second nature. Here is guidance on how I need the notes presented and some suggestions to help you.

Hope this helps.

poncho_57's picture
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Yes, that helps a bunch. Good ideas.

- David

poncho_57's picture
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By the way, the whitespace in those posts does make it too choppy. I see your point. This is the first forum I've posted to. I guess I'm learning how to post effectively as I go. :)

- poncho

juliahhavener's picture
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I would also consider being a bit specific about what these emails are to accomplish. I liked the previous replies and would tweak it just a bit by adding in that it's intended to free up their Tuesday mornings and clearly stating it's project information you're looking for. [i]Be sure to follow up and clarify these things in your weekly O3s so you don't end up with 'we're on target' for eight weeks of a nine-week project and then getting 'Well, I'm going to be late because...' in the ninth week.[/i]

I loved trandell's wording, though. It really puts the responsibility on and the value to your directs!

poncho_57's picture
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Good idea on being more specific.

- poncho

pmoriarty's picture
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First, I have yet to listen to this cast. For weekly updates from my reports, I have found that this structure has served me well (now, just watch, I'll listen to the cast and find out that this particular style is dead wrong... hey... wouldn't be the first time :)

- What got done last week
- What was supposed to get done last week but didn't
- Planned for the coming week
- Issues and concerns

madamos's picture
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The whole first section of the e-mail bothers me (up to describing the summary). You are telling your directs how to do something, which I would find offensive. You are micromanaging the process here.

My approach would be something simple like this:

Timely updates on the status of your work is critical for this team. I meet with my boss every Wednesday and I need your help to prepare.

I need updates on your status every week by xxxx time on xxxxx day.
The updates should include information on xxxxx.

Thank You.

Let your team figure out how to capure their information and the format for the update to you. The rest can be handled with feedback and coaching.


juliahhavener's picture
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I don't think the goal is to tell them how to do their jobs. It is, however, designed to get exactly the information needed in a format that is easy for *me* to assimilate.

If I gave a blanket request for information from my 14 directs I would get:

4 emails written like my 3rd-grader's creative writing assignment (Rambly, no paragraphs, little punctuation)
2 emails with about four lines of five words each that aren't particularly helpful
5 emails with a reasonable amount of relative data, reasonably well put together, but maybe not on all the points I need to have at hand
3 people who stop by my desk to say 'yeah, it's going great' with varied degrees of depth and varied degrees of information retention by me (without doubt, one of them will come at 6:30 when I've been there 10 hours already)

I would much rather say 'I need this information in this format' and let them figure out how to a) gather the information and b) organize it to my convenience. There's one of me. There's fourteen of them.

drinkcoffee's picture

Julia -- I loved your response...classic High-D.

juliahhavener's picture
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I can't imagine why ::blinks innocently::

Sorry. Still chuckling.

trandell's picture

"Yay Ds!", shouted the 7-2-3-2.

I use the approach of stating what I want by when and let them do the rest. I am trying this now and I have Julia's breakdown (with fewer people) almost exactly. Without getting into the "how" they do it, it is very easy for me to make a call or drop an e-mail with the "It's 4:05. When will I get your status report?" message.