In recent weeks, professionals across the world have been required to quickly develop and implement new communication habits. With widely dispersed teams, we are required now more than ever to communicate proactively and to ensure that those communications are productive. Alignment remains critical to effective teamwork but achieving that alignment has become increasingly difficult. So once direct lines of communication are severed, how do you ensure that your team stays in sync?
At CMG, we have seen and helped clients navigate this transition, and one thing has become clear: As the act of communication becomes more deliberate, so too should the format in which we communicate important information.
To do this, CMG often coordinates with clients using a simple, yet effective tool: the project status update.
Sounds easy, right? In theory, it is. But allow us to elaborate.
A status update is, in fact, exactly what it sounds like – a concise summary of the status of various work streams that a person or team has set out to accomplish. Critically, though, the status update is also a space to flag items that are behind schedule, identify necessary inputs, and address barriers to continued progress. Without the conversational space that we often use to raise these issues, a periodic status report can be extremely useful in keeping everyone on the same page and keeping projects on track.
But let’s be clear… It is not enough for team members or leaders to ask for status updates sporadically. In fact, we’ve found that this can cause more confusion. For this strategy to have maximum impact, teams should have clear guidance around a few important questions:
With a clearly organized, regularly scheduled status update, teams are able to organize around a single source of truth when evaluating progress. Doing so reduces confusion around responsibilities and timelines and frees team members to focus on accomplishing what matters.
At CMG, status updates are a routine part of the way we ensure alignment with our client teams across multiple work streams, and they are a critical component of maintaining transparency and fostering accountability when working with remote teams.
So why use a team status update? In our experience, this format has the advantage of encouraging teammates to be deliberate in reflecting upon and sharing their progress with the team. Doing so enables team members to ask questions more quickly, obtain support more easily, and share progress more readily. And we believe that teams that do these things effectively are poised to succeed not just today, but in the long run as well.
Want to give it a try? Contact us for a sample status update template and customize to suit your needs.