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Pat Croce's Five-Fifteen Plan

By Pat Croce
Reprinted with Permission

Throughout all of my diverse business ventures, I have instituted a key communication tool

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called the “Five-Fifteen.” Every Friday, each employee, manager, and everyone else right through the vice president level writes up a progress and activity report that lands on their immediate supervisor’s desk (or email inbox). Eventually, all the information trickles up to me in a sort of corporate Cliffs Notes. The idea is that the report takes 5 minutes for me to read and 15 minutes for them to write. Hence, “Five-Fifteen.”

The Five-Fifteens serve two main purposes: They keep practical information and numbers flowing, and they get the accolades going. Not only do employees write about the responsibilities they are driving and the goals they are striving toward, they also take the opportunity to brag about accomplishments and gloat about victories great and small. No one thinks of the Five-Fifteens as a chore, but rather as a chance to have their voice heard and their work seen—and hopefully to steal the weekend spotlight.

In these times of extensive travel, expanding and fluid workforce, and harried schedules in both work and play, the Five-Fifteens provide me with the perfect way to keep my finger on the pulse of the businesses through the employees’ perspective. It acts as a sounding board where I can respond with questions and suggestions. It operates as a failsafe reminder if I neglect to inquire about or respond to an employee’s specific to-do-list item. It provides me with a permanent record of employee performance when the annual evaluation sneaks up. And, most importantly, it affords me the opportunity to compliment the little progresses made on a weekly basis toward our overall goals and objectives…resulting in positive employee momentum each following week.

I don’t know about you, but I travel frequently across this great country of ours. And with my main home and office in the suburbs of Philadelphia and one of several of my main interests in Key West, Florida—not to mention all my other ventures and adventures far and wide—I find it very hard to maintain constant communication regarding all the matters of the week. Yes, I am a Blackberry email junkie and I still use the phone, fax, and FedEx to maintain momentum in my businesses. But caught in the whirlwind of the week, I may miss the little details that make the big difference. Here’s where the Five-Fifteens provide me with the perfect opportunity, during the downtime of my weekend, to focus on a specific person and their division, direction, duties, or direct reports with regards to our business as a whole.

My staff can usually expect by Monday mornings either a Five-Fifteen email response or a hard copy of their Five-Fifteen returned with notations scribbled in the margins. Concurrently, a member of their immediate staff may receive my acknowledgement of their boss’s thoughts via an email or hand-written letter of appreciation. In addition to maintaining the flow of business, the Five-Fifteen follow-up is a great way to assure staff members that I know, care, and appreciate their work. And it never hurts to extend a call of congratulations on a week well done.

-- PC

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