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 In Leadership Tips, Process Improvement, Rounding

HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF THINGS?

Take a guess – how many conversations do you have with your team in a day? How many in one week? It’s easy to lose track of what was said, and even more importantly what you promised to do to support others. Furthermore, depending on the size of your team or organization, it’s likely your team is working on multiple projects at once. How do you keep every project and person moving in the right direction? To stay organized and avoid dropping the ball on important actions, Huron has a solution. The stoplight report is a convenient tool with a variety of purposes.

ITS AS SIMPLE AS 1, 2, 3

Use a stoplight report to keep track of information, monitor progress and transparently communicate with your team. Record what you hear during conversations and meetings in columns to easily follow up with action.

  1. Green items are things that have been addressed and are complete.
  2. Yellow items are things in progress.
  3. Red items are things that cannot be done along with an explanation of why they can’t be done.
Green: Work Complete Yellow: Work in Progress Red: Can’t Complete at this time and here’s why
     

STOPLIGHT REPORTS IN ACTION

A stoplight report is a simple tool with a variety of uses. You can create a stoplight report to post publicly or for your own personal use. Stoplight reports are easy to understand and can be used to communicate to senior leaders or your direct reports. Here are three common situations you can implement a stoplight report:

ROUNDING REPORTS WITH A STOPLIGHT

Huron encourages leaders to conduct rounding conversations with individuals across organizations. Although there are many ways to round, one recommended question is, “What processes can be improved to make your work more efficient?” As employees answer this question, a stoplight report can be used to gather responses. After the rounding conversations are complete, refer to the stoplight report summarizing the information to determine how to follow through. Your report may look like this:

GREEN: WORK COMPLETE

YELLOW: WORK IN PROGRESS

RED: CAN’T COMPLETE AT THIS TIME AND HERE’S WHY

Avery has requested software for daily work – budget approved and request has been sent to IT.

Communication silos exist between marketing and sales teams. Connections have been made with all team members to determine collaboration needs. Team leads are developing a plan for biweekly meetings and progress monitoring to start next quarter.

Implement a ticketing system for customer support – more research is needed to determine costs, budget and ROI of implementation. Requires additional hires to build and implement a ticketing system.

For mid-level managers, a stoplight report can help communicate information up to senior leadership. It can also communicate back to your team what priorities you are working on and the progress of those items. Leaders who use this tool after rounding demonstrate that they value their team member’s opinions and want to create an engaging work environment.

STOPLIGHT SHORT CYCLE INITIATIVES

This green-yellow-red breakdown is incredibly useful to track the status of short-cycle initiatives. Whether the team is conducting 30, 60 or 90-day short cycles a visual tool with the status of each action provides a clear picture of progress. List all the priorities for the cycle and then at each team meeting members can signify green, yellow or red. The stoplight report keeps everyone informed about the team’s progress on the most important priorities.

The improvement team at Erwin Middle School uses a 30-day action plan with a stoplight report like the own shown here:

LEAD

ACTION

RED

YELLOW

GREEN

Principal

Hire a new counselor to serve as a liaison between EMS and parents/students.

   

Complete

Instructional Coaches

Pull list of students with D and F averages. Provide new counselor with attendance report.

   

Complete

Counselor

Be in constant communication with teachers. Attend weekly PLCs to update teachers on the status of their students whose families have been contacted. Teachers will keep track of their remote absences using a specific Google Form.

 

Ongoing

 

Counselor

Be in constant communication with EMS parents and students to identify barriers that are hindering students from being present (traditional and remote) to school.

 

Ongoing

 

At the beginning, middle and end of the cycle, everyone has a clear consensus of the priorities and progress. If the stoplight report reveals that there isn’t enough movement in the right direction, needed strategy adjustments can be discussed and made before the cycle ends.

  • Analyze the measures marked green, recognize team members who have contributed to positive results and communicate why those actions are working.
  • Focus on any yellow measures that are trending in a negative direction. Ask some follow-up questions such as:
    • Where are the successes?
    • Where are the bright spots?
    • Why isn’t the team moving faster to the goal?
    • Are the right strategies in place? How do you know?
    • Are the key strategies being executed with fidelity?
  • For red measures, we can use the same questions as yellow with the addition of:
    • Are we executing or not and why not?
    • Did we choose the wrong strategy?
  • Lastly, determine a plan to move forward and what actions to monitor in the next cycle.

PROGRESS MONITORING WITH A STOPLIGHT REPORT

Like using a stoplight report for short-cycle initiatives or rounding conversations, it can be used to monitor progress on any project or goal. For example, the organization has its big aims, major goals that may take years to reach. Those may be broken down into yearly goals which can be further broken down into department goals. As each department sets its goals for the year, teams may also break those down to determine their goals. Even still, individual employees may use the team goal to determine their personal goals and priorities.

A stoplight report can monitor progress on each group’s goals. An individual uses the report to stay organized and communicate their progress on personal priorities. Leaders collect individual stoplight reports from all team members to summarize the progress on the department’s goals to their senior leader. Department stoplight reports can then be summarized into a yearly organization-wide stoplight that communicates progress on the most important priorities. In addition, publicly sharing the stoplight report with stakeholders creates a free flow of information that builds trust between the organization and its community. 

The list of ways to use a stoplight report is endless. Keep track of all the moving parts and quickly and clearly communicate information. Download a stoplight report and try using it with your team today.

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