General Business

Steve Adubato’s Lessons in Leadership: Great Leaders Close the Loop

On this edition of “Lessons in Leadership”, Steve Adubato and Mary Gamba talk with Tai Cooper, Chief Community Development Officer, New Jersey Economic Authority (NJEDA) about leadership, innovation and innovation. Then, Steve and Mary are joined by Collyn Gilbert, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, Valley Bank, who shares the leadership lessons she has learned as a woman leader in the banking industry.

With so many people working in a hybrid or remote environment, it is more important than ever for leaders to create a culture where “closing the loop” is not only expected but required. Whether you are a manager overseeing a small team of one or two direct reports, or have dozens of people reporting to you, there is nothing more frustrating than having to reach out to members of your team to find out where they are on a particular project, assignment, or task. And what’s worse, when you do follow up, you find out that either a deadline has been missed or a project is stuck. Consider the following when it comes encouraging your team to proactively “close the loop.”

  • Set clear expectations and guidelines. As a leader, it is your responsibility to let your team know exactly what “closing the loop” means to you and your organization. For example, do you want a daily update via e-mail at 5 p.m.? Or, would you prefer a regular meeting every Friday at 1 p.m. where members of your team give you an overview on where they are on their respective projects? Be specific so that your team gives you what you need without inundating you with too much information.
  • Navigating roadblocks. There is nothing more frustrating for a manager than believing a project is moving along only to later find out that circumstances have stalled progress. The key is to communicate to your team that you understand that challenges and obstacles are a part of businesses, but when this happens, not only do they need to immediately alert you of the roadblock, but they need to come to you with proposed solutions so you can continue to move forward.
  • Set benchmarks. Most likely, an assignment will not have closure after a week or even a few weeks, so setting clear benchmarks of what is expected by when will allow your team to “close the loop” with you on where things are in the process at key, predefined points. And again, let them know whether you are looking for an email, a phone call, or meeting as a means for you to receive those regular updates.
  • “Close the loop” externally. Beyond closing the loop with projects within an organization, it is just as important to proactively communicate with clients, customers, and other key external stakeholders on the status of an order, delivery or other services that have been promised. Do not wait for a client to reach out to say, “What is the status of…”, as this communicates to them that they are not important to you or your organization.
  • Selectively share information with the entire team. It is often appropriate to “close the loop” with a broader audience than just your immediate leader or manager. If there is a project you are working on that impacts others on your team, strategically share an e-mail update that includes your progress, next steps, and clearly defined deadlines.
  • Who should do what by when? If you are “closing the loop” on the status of a project that requires actions from others on the team, be sure to include specifics of who should be doing what by when. Meaning, if Mike is expected to follow up with Jim by end of day Friday to finalize the Jones report, include those specific details. And be sure you ask for Mike and Jim to “reply all” that they received the information and that they will meet that deadline.
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