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Creating a virtuous cycle of communication and motivation with your reports

Team reaction
Convincing
Internal Communication
High Performers

18 July, 2018

Dan found a way to both know more about what his reports were up to, and create a willing dynamic on their end with a reward system.

Problem

As a leader of a growing organization it becomes increasingly difficult to know what is happening across your team. I was responsible for work streams spanning product engineering, infrastructure, DevOps, IT, as well as organizational projects such as hiring, performance evaluation, and leadership development. I had to report on status of this work to the exec team every monday morning and felt I didn't have enough context to honor the hard work of the teams.

Actions

To start with I asked team leads to send me a weekly update every Friday. I asked them to provide 5 things:

  • updates on metrics you are tracking
  • what happened
  • what's next
  • challenges and risks
  • lessons learned My plan was to read them over the weekend, identify the patterns and trends, and synthesize highlights for the exec team. Getting people to send these reports felt like pulling teeth. Thinking through Duhigg's habit cycle — cue > behavior > reward — I realized we had a cue (an email from me) but no reward. There wasn't enough intrinsic motivation to make the habit sticky and there wasn't the ability to learn from each other by seeing what others were writing. I shifted things to a two-week cycle and started synthesizing a report to send to the whole company. Each team would have their own section and if they didn't send me an update there'd be a "no update this cycle" placeholder. Folks across the company said they loved getting the update on what the engineering teams were doing and the teams felt like they were getting more recognition for their work.

Lessons Learned

When trying to create new habits and adjust behaviors, think through motivations and rewards. Requiring compliance is not good enough for quality work. Look for ways that a behavior can satisfy multiple needs.


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