May 31, 2020

The “Coach sheet” – A paper-based system for people management

How to not lose sight of your direct report.

As a manager, keeping track of a lot of direct reports and one-on-one (1:1) meetings can be challenging. I managed 8 people directly and sometimes I lost track during my back to back 1:1 meetings. And boy, what did we talk about last time? I’m not good at keeping this stuff on the fly.

I love to keep track of my tasks on paper with a simple to-do list system. One day I thought, why not add another system to keep track of my one-on-one meetings?

I call this simple system the “Coach sheet”

I just imagine a basketball coach will have sorta coach sheet, I don’t know, don’t judge me on the naming, okay? The overall goal here is to have a place where I can take notes and ideas related to my direct report as I go. Let’s call him Jack. Here are a few scenarios when I will use the “Coach sheet”:

  • When I find a perfect new project for Jack
  • When I think of a new skill or topic for Jack to learn
  • When I observe a few things that Jack can improve upon
  • When Jack told me a few blockers on his project

In any of these scenarios, I want to have it ready to transfer the information from my head down to the paper so I can free up my headspace. Later, I will bring them up on the next 1:1 session.

I have tried many ways, but this is the most comfortable I find and the most useful by far. I will explain it a little bit more as we go.

What you will need: A notebook or a paper and a pen.

Coach sheet preview

1. Summary

This is a high-level of summary about the direct report. I normally discuss on their long-term vision or aspiration, current project, and how much of the direction they need based on the conversation. This is a nice overview for manager, imagine having this for 7 people.

2. Feedback space

This will be bullet points and a very concise list of feedback I want to give based on my observation. I will put the topic and an example of when that happens so I can be specific when I give the feedback. Having this list is great because I like to do some readings before giving the feedback to make sure I can help direct them toward some tangible ways to improve.

3. Blocker space

As the project progresses, there will be a blocker that I will help to unblock. This can be just a personal challenge, like knowledge-wise, or it can be organization political stuff that I need to make it works.

4. Misc

Lastly, this space is for additional notes, maybe I find that my direct reports love specific topics or maybe they express that they want to improve on certain areas. I will take notes on this and make sure I follow through later on.

Carry on!

This is a very simple system and you can modify based on your needs. One of my leadership focus is to coach and build an empowered team. That’s why I love to put the feedback and blocker upfront. But hey, I keep improving this. So if you decided to make your own, please share it!

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