Managers Should Make Their Reports Relevant
Probably the biggest weakness in the relationship between in-plant managers and their bosses is the reporting process: What to report and when to do it. In an article in IPG's extensive archives, Consultant Ray Chambers offered a strategy to help managers create more relevant reports.
Too many in-plant managers use a shotgun strategy in reporting their activities, Chambers wrote—that is, they gather all the data they can find and fire it up the chain of command. The logic seems to be that the boss will pick out what he/she wants to read and discard the rest.
There are a couple of problems with this approach. Executives and administrators are problem solvers, and if you give them data they may assume that you want them to use it. Further, their conclusions may not match yours.
Remember that you’ve been working with your data for years, and you understand the nuances, like how the number of work orders varies seasonably, how work is shifting from offset to digital, when revenues peak and when they take a dive, and so on.
On the other hand, the administrators’ conclusions will be more superficial. If they see what appears to be a trend toward fewer jobs, for example, how likely will they be to approve a request for more equipment? Not very. Never mind that the jobs are larger and the overall impression count is increasing.
Tell your boss what she/he needs to know, not what you think she/he wants to hear. This means don’t flood your boss with data just because it’s available. Rather, report on a few meaningful measures that accurately reflect what you’re doing and relate them to the overall strategy of the organization.
The dilemma seems to revolve around figuring out what the boss wants to know, so here’s a clue: Ask! The in-plant manager has the responsibility to lead a conversation that identifies the kinds of information available, what the executive needs/wants to know, how to report it and when.