Filling in box after box of an excel spreadsheet can make it seem like you are really accomplishing something. When you create reports, you’re pleasing the part of your mind that begs to organize and categorize, even if the reports you’re making are not particularly useful. How many reports a day get moved from your desk to someone else’s, without any real effect on your business strategy or decision making? It’s time to turn that train around. With properly used reporting, your company will be able to track and improve upon on its performance and customer service, from a broad scale to an individual basis.
Reporting, first and foremost, has to contain actionable data. Data that can’t be changed, has no real effect on its recipient. Data that is just too extensive to intake, amounts to a waste of paper when passed around in a report. When selecting the information to be used in a report, be careful to include information that will be obvious to your reader as an area with an opportunity to get better and information on improvements already achieved. You’ll want to have reports to help identify where problems exist, like bottle-necks or staffing shortages, and answer how well business goals are being met on a regular basis.
The goals included are a whole story by themselves, too. The main aspect of a useful goal is that it must be achievable. Setting far-fetched or unrealistic goals for your employees is demoralizing and counter-productive. Be aware of which person or people are looking at the reports so that you can issue goals that are personally relevant, instead of just offering one big number to hit as a company. With goals that broad, it’s easy for employees to fall into the feeling that their efforts don’t make much of a difference either way, because the results are not immediately noticeable.
Lastly, ensure that your reports are readable and relatable: pertinent information, formatted to highlight problems and suggest solutions. Reading the report shouldn’t take up half the workday, otherwise your employees will spend too much of their valuable time just imbibing information, or worse, they just won’t read the reports at all. Getting creative with charts and infographics has a fairly positive effect, as the reader can understand a whole wad of data in just a few cursory glances.
Ultimately, your reporting should cater to its audience. Dry, rambling reports will do nothing but take up time and space, so be careful what you print! Give your employees something they actually want to know, and you can watch the benefits unroll before your eyes in a matter of days.