Software programs generate reports that provide leaders and managers with the metrics they need to run their business. Customer Relationship Management software tracks activity, opportunity funnels, client interactions, and sales.
These tools are powerful when used well. But used incorrectly, they can produce an unwanted and unexpected outcome: the loss of accountability.
The Difference in Reports and Reporting
Reports are a record of something that has already occurred. They allow you to review data, find trends, identify gaps, and make decisions. All of these things are important.
Reporting is different from reports. When someone you lead has to “report to you,” they are responsible for verbally providing you with information. This is different from you looking at you reports you generate.
“But wait,” you say, “isn’t it a waste of time to have one of the people I lead walk me through their activity and outcomes when I can very easily pull up a dashboard and see how they’re doing?” The answer is, “No. It is not better. It is dangerous.”
When the person reporting has to access their information themselves, identify areas where they need improvement, and make decisions about what they need to next, they are reviewing their own performance. When they report it to you, you are holding them accountable. When you review the data and the person you lead doesn’t have to report to you, you are eliminating that accountability.
Hiding In Plain Sight
There are leaders and managers who allow the people they lead to hide in plain sight. Their results are visible, but their leaders don’t talk about their individual results with them with any kind of real cadence (or sometimes at all). People can struggle for months or years with no one requiring them to answer for their performance or coaching them, their results visible to anyone who looks at reports.
This is one of the ways leaders kill accountability. They look at the numbers, but they don’t require their employees to report their results themselves. By eliminating the requirement that their people have to report, face-to-face or by phone, they unknowingly destroy accountability.
Reporting is different than reports. They’re both important, but only one of them creates a culture of accountability.