Here is a sample PDF of the one-page tool I used to manage my weekly work as CEO. Each direct report would submit a single page document, like this one submitted by the CFO.
The top portion contains – in order of importance – the items each person needed my help with, or things I needed to do to advance work. These were my “to-do-list” from all my direct reports – things I could do to serve them and help them get their work done.
The bottom portion contains – in no particular order of importance – the things each person felt I needed to know. They were instructed to include things in this area that were vital for me to know. Their mandate was simple – do not allow me to be blindsided by anything. Urgent unexpected things were communicated in person or by phone in real time.
There were some unplanned benefits of this workflow.
1. Direct reports were forced to think about what they needed from me, and to prioritize them.
2. Likewise with sharing any information they felt was necessary for me to know.
3. The one page not only held me accountable, but them, too.
4. No surprises. The only surprises that ever occurred were those that happened in real time. But this document was revised at least twice weekly.
How it worked:
a. Documents were prepared in advance of a Monday meeting from 11am to noon. That meeting was primarily to review the weekend and the upcoming week.
b. The document was a working document, effective immediately. As I knocked off items on the top part of the page, each direct was notified of it’s completion or what progress I had made.
c. The document was updated in preparation of a Thursday meeting from 10am to noon. Updated versions would be produced during that meeting to reflect whatever changes had happened (including whatever items had been completed, etc.).
All direct reports spent at least 3 hours with me weekly, as a group. Sometimes those Thursday meetings included lunch together (at least half the time). Additionally, I probably spent a few hours weekly one-on-one with most (although that wasn’t spent equally; for instance, the CFO was just down the hall so he and I interacted much more than the others).
Of all the things I have ever tried – dozens of things – nothing proved as effective for getting things done, keeping updated on important issues and avoiding the “fire fighting” mentality that plagues many leaders.