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By Candice Rogers, Paladin, Inc.

Have you ever worked your tail off on a project and reached the point when your team is hitting its stride, only to be taken out at the knees by a Corrective Action list? Whether you call it an Issues Tracking Log or a “Litany of Things You Did Wrong,” it’s no fun to stare at a list of hundreds of issues when you’ve already solved thousands. It’s even worse when they’re presented in a way that makes no sense. You wonder “Did we miss this big?” “Does the person looking at our work even know what they’re seeing?” “How do we keep from doing this again?” The key question, however, is “how do I move my team forward?”

Regaining your momentum starts with establishing clarity. A poorly executed Issues Tracking Log can do more harm than good, drawing you onto a contentious battlefield when they should be serving as an improvement tool.  Instead of wasting time and money at a point when both are running thin, it’s better to apply some best practices before people start checking out from discouragement.  They include:

  1. Use The Right Tools. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with regular work emails, much less a wave of 30 out-of-sequence emails demanding an immediate response. Do everyone a favor and choose a platform that consolidates, organizes and formats all the relevant information then keeps all changes and comments on a dashboard. When you stop trying to use Excel and email for your Issues Log and adopt a tool like BuildingTest, Facility Grid, Cx Alloy, or even Latista, your team and client will praise you.
  2. Set Clear Expectations. Just like a runner can’t cross a finish line that isn’t drawn, your team can’t hit a mark you haven’t defined. So, define success for your team by using/completing sentences like “We will be updating Issues Logs after every site visit.” “We will cover these items at the next progress meeting.”  “The expected response is 1, 2, 3…”
  3. Assign Ownership. Every item on your Issues Log should be clearly assigned to the correct party.  As the leader, you’ll have to do a little extra researching and thinking about the assignments, but it’s worth it when hammer swingers are hitting nails instead of gauges. If you can’t assign an item to just one person or sub, then create a designation for a combined effort.
  4. Be Precise. I’ve seen Issues Log entries that simply read “AHU-4.”  That could mean a lot of different things.  Or did the author just sneeze and his system transcribed it? Vague entries create an exercise in possibilities that requires the recipient to become a mind reader.  Instead, emphasize providing issues in a format that is clear, trackable and concise while identifying who is on the hook to respond. It’s cheaper than hiring a fortune teller.
  5. Schedule Wisely. I had one project where my workload allowed me to submit reports on Fridays.  Not surprisingly, these end-of-week deliveries were either ignored or answered after hours.  After a few recurrences, I learned my lesson and adjusted the delivery time for those Issues Logs.  Then, when people had questions, everyone was able to respond in a focused manner.
  6. Reiterate Your Reiterations. Daily life has become a mix of busy, distracted and overloaded, so it’s important to emphasize what matters.  I refuse to believe that our building professional counterparts think, “I’m going to totally blow this off.”  So, I extend the courtesy of not only sharing expectations in context, but also repeating the key points to eliminate misunderstanding.  When it comes to your key deliverables, don’t be shy. Reiterate your reiterations until the task is complete and/or status updates are available.

The bottom line is that these items require us to anticipate needs and plan for their successful resolution. When there is clarity in the conversation, emotions cool down and productivity ramps up. The result is a happy customer and a team that will insist on working with you again.