Just give me a status, please!

It seems that in every IT shop I have been there are always several techs or engineers who absolutely refuse to provide status. Some seem to think it’s questioning their skills to even suggest they might possibly not complete a task. Some seem to think that they are too high-level to have to bother with such administrivia. And I am sure that some genuinely feel they must go it alone and hide a missed estimate, a mistake, or even a legitimate unforeseen barrier. Regardless of the motivation, this is a symptom of immaturity and a lack of understanding of professional service organizations.

Reporting on the work is simply part of the work. And the work is not complete until one fulfills whatever reporting requirements associated with it. Project tasks have successor tasks that are dependent upon it. Not having adequate information on predecessor tasks can lead to further missed tasks, project failure and loss of revenue or customer trust. I used expect formality around the communication of status, but as I have grown older, I gladly settle for a quick email, phone call, text or even grunt that someone has completed their assignment.

Despite how obvious this may seem, managers and project managers must specifically make the responsibility of providing status a requirement. The use of staff operating principles, change guidelines, and/or communication plans are mechanisms that can be used for such a purpose. And when these proactive measures do not work, we must resort to feedback and coaching.