Originally created by Yvon Chouinard, founder of the clothing brand Patagonia, and inspired by the Scrum standup questions, 15/5 reports are a great way to keep a regular pulse across teams and organisations. They should take no more than 15 minutes to write, and no more than 5 minutes to read.
When you create a weekly cadence of 15/5 reports, you can use them to inform 1-1 meetings you have, and it helps you report up and across to other team leaders or managers.
Ensuring that everyone knows what's going on in an organisation can be hard. None of us want to spend lots of time writing or reading reports, but only communicating verbally can take a lot of time and risk losing granularity or accuracy of information.
Some people find it easier to communicate in written form, because it gives them more time to think about what they're saying and how to say it.
By using weekly 15/5 reports, people know there's always a space to report anything good, bad, or interesting.
You will probably want to use different questions to the below, and you should also evolve your questions as you and your teams evolve too.
Use the below as a starting point though, and see how you get on. There should be around three "mandatory" questions (though people are free to state "I have nothing to report on", or similar) and you can include a few optional questions that add extra context and ideas.
It can be useful to ask people to have 15/5 reports to you for the end of the week, a Friday morning, for example. This means you have time to digest them before the weekend. Choose the timing and cadence that works best for your team. Suggest to your team that they don't wait until the day to write them - instead, make notes through the week, and then writing it should be really easy - because you already know what to write.
Even if you have around ten or more people sending reports to you, this is a very effective method of ensuring you can support your team in the best way possible, and can keep yourself and the rest of the organisation informed about progress, challenges, and opportunities.
Be sure to respond to every report - even if it's a quick acknowledgement and thanks - because it can be very demotivating for people to write these without receiving a response.
What are your main achievements this week? What are you most proud of or satisfied with?
This question means the report starts with highlighting success. And people should be encouraged to add non-work achievements too.
Is there anything worrying or concerning you in or outside of work?
This is a really important question. You can address these concerns in your 1-1s, and if multiple people raise the same concern, you can get in front of it before it becomes too big.
How are you feeling, and what is the morale of your team around you?
This question may take weeks or months before people begin to answer honestly and safely, but it's really important. This is one of the key ways you can keep a pulse on the team culture and morale.
Is there anything I could be doing better, differently or more of that would help you?
As a leader, it's important that you constantly and consistently ask for feedback. Whilst you might not get any significant feedback every week, asking regularly helps to provide the space to do so. Ensure that you react positively to any feedback you get, and act on it.
Where are you facing any challenges or blockages?
This is your opportunity to improve productivity and process. As a leader, a huge part of your role means ensuring that your team can work without anything getting in their way.
What would you change about the work environment, the team, or the organisation?
Some great ideas come out of this question, especially if you ask it often. Be sure to try to act on any suggestions you receive.
Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the 15/5 Reports practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.