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The company I work in used to do monthly review meetings. Since last year this was changed and we use spreadsheets now instead. We fill them with the projects the boss decides should be a priority, and fill every month what we finished, what we didn't finish and why.

To the staff, the spreadsheet is not as usable and doesn't let us work out any progress. After a period, we switch to another sheet, so we lose the previous info, at least visually. The management says we should check by ourselves every month and see where we failed and where we can improve, based on how long the projects have been there. Most of the info could be calculated automatically with all the other logging systems we use.

In fact, the review meetings were a way to get feedback from the bosses. Despite we're in the same office, and many of us work in common projects, we feel more alone than ever and I don't feel any progress.

How could we get the most of the spreadsheet organisation, in order to replace the missing parts from the review meetings?

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    This reads like a rant to me... Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 11:50
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    This is 90% rant, but at the end there is a valid question. I´d like to see some answers to that! maybe OP can edit the preface to take a more neutral tone?
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 12:15
  • @user82669: I did an edit to maybe save your question an make it seem less like a rant. If you don´t agree, feel free to revert or make your own edit!
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 12:30
  • Do all your projects require feedback from managers? Or does your manager simply putting a checkmark/ "this is good" tag on it solidify the teams work?
    – Isaiah3015
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 17:23

3 Answers 3

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Maybe you could organize your team to use your own collaboration tool. Then,
everyone takes a turn to synchronize the tool with the spreadsheet each month.

Once you have a good work-routine you surprise Management with astonishing realtime-reports for the project status.

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  • Amazing that some places are still not using a tool for this. The spreadsheet will forever be dying a slow death...
    – Neo
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 13:24
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Maybe you can write a document describing why you think meetings make sense.

How did you profit from these meeting in the past and how do you think will you profit from meetings in the future? And what are you missing now without the meetings. And how would the meetings also be good for the boss? And maybe how would your company be more productive with meetings.

If you do a good job with such a document then maybe you will get the meetings back. And the boss will see that you care. Just make sure you describe the facts and don't just complain that times were so much better when you had meetings.

If after this the boss does not reintroduce the meeting and not even tell you why not then better move on to another boss (and company).

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Change isn't inherently bad.

The management says we should check by ourselves every month and see where we failed and where we can improve, based on how long the projects have been there.

If I can assume that your description is ad verbatim what management has said themselves, then it sounds like they're trying to get out from under having to manage the employees.

It's a surprising move; but I can't label it as objectively bad (or good). It very much depends on the environment. Some examples why it can be good or bad:

  • (bad) If the projects heavily rely on internal management (many moving parts); then letting the employees manage their own reviews can be an indication of management trying to steer clear from a unfixable situation.
  • (good) If you're on a micromanaged ship, then it may actually be better for management to take a step back and only deal with the problems, as opposed to pointlessly micromanaging everything that moves.
  • (good) Much like a child that calls for help at the earliest convenience, the employees may have subtly drifted into a regime of relying on management for settling everything; from interpersonal disputes to trivial questions about projects. And much like you do with a child, you need to teach them self-reliance by refusing to respond to every cry for attention (in a controlled enviroment).

These are only a few things I can think of. There are many more possibilities. I'm not going to try and list them all. The point that you should take away from this is that isn't guaranteed to be a bad move.

Give it a chance.

Somewhat obviously, the managers are there to manage the employees. They've decided to go hands-off with the review process. One can only surmise that this is an informed decision on their part, even if the justification for doing so isn't known to most employees.

For better or for worse, management has decided that the employees can self-manage this review process themselves. But that doesn't mean that they aren't open to improving the new system based on feedback from the employees.

So give their suggestion a chance. You may feel alone at the moment, but environments generally cope with changes by adapting to them.
This may come in the form of most employees focusing more on peer reviews, pair programming, or even assigning a temporary code reviewer (round-robin style).

Many review solutions exist, and not all of them include management in a leading role. Depending on the work environment (low pressure on projects, having the time to redo something if a mistake has crept in, ...), it may be beneficial for the employees to rely on themselves.

You're not responsible if the new system fails.

This is important to realize. Management made the decision to cancel the review meetings, so management is responsible for any issues stemming from this decision.

The only thing you should avoid doing is dooming the new system to fail because you're unhappy with it. That's not an accusation, it's a warning. If there are valid concerns about the new system, then they need to be specifically addressed. But the concerns need to be objectively identifiable.

Review whether the review-less system actually works.

It sounds a bit tongue-in-cheek to suggest reviewing the absence of the review meetings; but that is exactly what you should do.

Over the course of a few monthly cycles, take note of what has happened. Did you encounter problems that you didn't use to encounter before? Are there employees whose work quality has severely dropped because no one is reviewing them anymore?
Be fair, and also review from the other side of things: have there been notable improvements? Has employee happiness increased due to not feeling judged every month?

In your question, you already raise two valid concerns.

To the staff, the spreadsheet is not as usable and doesn't let us work out any progress.

It's a good point, but I'd suggest coming up with a suggestion before you take this to management. It sounds like you need a more interactive tool, as opposed to a simply monthly report.

Management is likely much more open to hearing "Using X would really help us with keeping track of progress" compared to "the new system is making it hard to track progress".

After a period, we switch to another sheet, so we lose the previous info, at least visually.

This is a direct question about the format of the report itself. There's not much you can do here, other than be a bit more direct as to what information is missing. If you can provide a wishlist of things you'd like to see on the report (with a short justification for why it's needed), it's harder for management to refuse such a reasonable request, when compared to simply blaming the new system for the lack of information.

Make sure you unite as a group.

If everyone is making personal requests about improving the system, then management is likely to dismiss all of it. If you were in their position, so would you, it's a matter of information overload.

But if you collaborate with your colleagues, mutually agree on issues, and possibly solve some trivial issues by yourselves without involving management; then the remainder of your requests becomes harder to dismiss (especially if you can show that the employees have already attempted improving things by themselves).

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