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What Is a Direct Report?

What Is a Direct Report?

Understanding the breakdown of the organizational structure of your company—no matter what your role is—can have an impact on the way you communicate and how you work.

As companies and organizations grow, their structure must adjust, and labels might change. Learn exactly what it means to be (or manage) a direct report.

What Is a Direct Report?

A direct report is an employee that works directly under someone in a management position. They are usually part of a team that reports directly to one person. That manager is called the direct reportee.

The direct reportee will usually have the following duties for their direct reports:

  • Assign and delegate day-to-day tasks
  • Ensure asks align with the bandwidth of the team
  • Facilitate clear communication from other leadership in the company

Depending on the size of the company, direct reportees can be direct reports themselves. For example, an entry-level employee might be the direct report to a team lead. That team lead might report to a department manager. And that manager could be a report to a director.

Having a ladder of direct reports and reportees helps keep an organization coordinated and efficient. The more employees within a business generally needs more of a coordinated breakdown of management systems.

What is a Direct Report graphic 1.png

Indirect Reports

Anyone who reports to your direct report would then be your indirect report. In the example above, the entry-level employee would be the indirect report of the department manager and the director. Anyone multiple levels below in the management chain would be considered an indirect report. Many companies have a leadership “tree,” with each level of leadership in charge of a small group of people.

Your boss’ boss doesn’t often have much bearing on your day-to-day tasks. Coordinating that is the job of your direct reportee. This might feel like business jargon to many, but it can be helpful to keep track of who each person in leadership is and who they have as direct reports.

Why Have Direct Reports and Reportees?

Once again, a more complicated chain of direct reports and reportees makes more sense once a business or organization gains more employees, or their operations grow and become more complicated.

In a small business, one manager might fill multiple roles. No matter the size or shape of your business, what matters is knowing where you fit in and how you can effectively communicate with those around you.

Effectively Organize Your Business

Assigning teams and direct reports often happens naturally when daily operations and tasks are broken down and defined. Each person is only capable of so much work in a day or week, so delegating tasks is necessary.

Normally, each direct reportee will be in charge of several people who are assigned more specific, specialized duties. Multiple people worrying about many different aspects of a company, even “low” level tasks, can cause confusion and inefficiency. Direct reports help keep things organized and on track. This is essential because it keeps any one person from being overwhelmed.

Create Open Communication and Trust Throughout the Employee Network

We’ve probably all been in a job where we ask ourselves, “why do I have to do this?” A good direct reportee can coordinate two-way feedback between the higher-up and their direct reports. A CEO might not have the clearest picture of exactly what every employee does every day. And not every employee might feel comfortable approaching the CEO for their needs.

Having this ladder of management keeps communication between the right people. When things that need to go higher do, or when a direct reportee uses the power and resources available to them, it creates trust through all levels of a company.

What is a Direct Report graphic 2.jpg

How to Best Manage Direct Reports

Emotional intelligence can go a long way when you’re put in charge of others. Managing direct reports is no different. Facilitating communication is extremely important, but here are some other ways to keep your direct reports happy and ensure they reach their full potential.

*Want to learn exactly how to do this in your current role, or in a job you’re hoping to land? Our course on Managing the Work of Your Direct Reports helps outline best management practices for those with direct reports. Follow the link to learn more, but here are a few basics to get started.

Clearly Outline Tasks and Goals

Ambiguity not only breeds confusion—it kills efficiency. Outline exactly why this team is there, and how to do their jobs effectively. But also help them answer the question, “why am I doing this?” Goals of the team or the company shouldn’t be a secret for the leadership team. Let your direct reports know what, exactly, each task accomplishes.

This doesn’t mean you need to micromanage everything. Trusting your employees to do what they need to—and to have some agency in accomplishing tasks or finding new ways to be more efficient—creates camaraderie. However, most people need some framework to begin.

Provide Feedback

We can’t get better if we don’t know how. Compassionate and constructive feedback help your direct reports know where they can improve. Do this as you see opportunities for improvement.

Many direct reportees have frequent one-on-ones with their direct reports to check-in. This is an opportunity to not only provide feedback but to ask questions that can help you both. Try asking questions like:

  • Do you feel like your workload matches your bandwidth?
  • Is there anything preventing you from getting your work done?
  • How do you prefer to receive feedback?

This feedback is meant to help your direct report improve performance, but you must do so constructively with their best interests in mind.

What is a Direct Report graphic 3.png

Ask for Feedback

These one-on-0nes are also an opportunity to ask for feedback for you or the department. These questions might include:

  • What can I do to help you with a task?
  • Are your assignments and duties clear?
  • Any ideas for procedure changes?

This feedback is one of the best ways to monitor progress and performance. Your direct reports know best how things are running on the team. Again, the two-way street of communication builds a healthy work environment. Be gracious in accepting feedback from your direct reports.

Get More Out of Management

Like with any skill set, management and leadership can be worked on and improved each day. The Regional Economic Development Center at Yavapai College is here to help you manage your direct reports to the best of your abilities. Check out our full course list for both employers and employees to see how you can reach your full potential, whatever your role.

Home LinkThe BWS is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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