Stop making your job so fucking complicated.
I get it: you’re smart, you have a college degree, had a high GPA, everyone has been cheering you on. Cool. Maybe your company is treading water, and you don't know what to do. Maybe your company is growing, and you’re anxious because, for the first time, you don’t know what’s going on at every level of your company. Maybe you're just living day to day trying to "not get fired." Perhaps you’re a new manager or an employee who’s eager to prove their worth in numbers.
Whatever your motivations, your 2-hour meetings, 50 slide decks, 12-tab spreadsheets are a problem. Sure, in the ideal world, we’d have that level of data downloaded directly into our brains. But let’s be real: even if you were collecting all of that info, when does anyone (including you) have time to make anything of it?
I fell into this trap when we launched Bulu Marketplace. With two developing products and a rapidly growing team, I was nervous that something would be broken or wrong and we wouldn’t know soon enough. We had employees filling out elaborate spreadsheets weekly. The spreadsheets pulled into software that created scorecards with graphs and other visuals, then nearly all of these scorecards were discussed in weekly meetings. Admittedly, it was overkill. Some of my teammates were spending more time tracking and reporting marketing tactics or warehouse stats than they actually spent working on that thing. It was slowing down our progress to be so far in the weeds.
Ultimately, I learned I had to let go and trust others.
Clear goals are essential, but they don’t need to be complicated. Here’s the formula that Bulu employees (ahem, should) use for every type of reporting.
What’s your GOAL? We call them rocks.
What is your BUDGET? Each rock is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-phased.
What did you ACTUALLY do?
WHY are you over or under budget?
REPORT the outcome up.
ADJUST your future goals (rocks) and budget... start over.
The questions help you focus on the most critical question: the WHY. Why did we win or lose hitting the budget? Nowadays, every employee at Bulu has 2-5 quarterly Goals (rocks) that align with our long-term or short-term vision. A simple Google Drive sheet that everyone fills out weekly with the important numbers helps us at the end of the quarter when we look at all goals and see what we need to know at a glance: what’s working and what’s broken.
The smartest people I know are overcomplicating things and reporting because it feels good. I think most companies I know can summarize their reports like this...WE NEED TO SELL SOME MORE SHIT. Now if that isn't your problem, perhaps it's time to get more elaborate, but you still need to have a goal, budget, actual, explanation, adjustment and more goals.
tl;dr Don't get too complicated if you know the main point of your report is "we need to sell some more shit."