Conversation at a lunch meeting with a world-class manager the other day was centered around one word: “tracking”. Jake said, “Communication is important for managing, but the way I know if someone is going to be a good manager is when they tell me they are good at tracking.”
Tracking what? Tracking certain communications!
Jake has studied “The Four Conversations”, and when he adds that one ingredient – tracking – he says it adds up to good management. Here’s what – and how – he tracks:
1. Initiative conversations are good for suggesting ideas or proposing actions. Where do YOU keep a record of those suggestions and proposals? Some of them can be developed now, but some could be valuable later. Jake keeps a Good Ideas file for ideas he hears but is not ready to implement.
2. Understanding conversations, where people sort out their roles and responsibilities in developing and implementing a plan or project, give rise to even more good ideas. Some of those ideas go into the Good Ideas file for future review, but others are things that actually need to be done, so they go on an Actions List.
3. Performance conversations are the “requests, promises, and agreements” for getting things done and delivered. This is where the Action List gets further developed to become an Assignment Chart: it lists the job, who will do it, by when, and a note about why it’s important to get done.
4. Closure conversations are where accomplishment gets created – and if you haven’t tracked the Good Ideas and Actions and developed an Assignment Chart, you might not be able to create any accomplishment for yourself or others.
Closure conversations remind people of What they said they would do, When it was going to be done, and Why it matters. If they did their job, there is an accomplishment to point out – and your saying that’s an accomplishment is what creates it! If they didn’t do their job, there is a discussion to have about what’s in the way and how to resolve it – and you can point to that as an accomplishment too.
Communication + Tracking = Management? Could it be so simple? Maybe so.