Communicate Organizational Goals and Strategies
If are unable to answer that question, chances are, you are far less likely to be able to recite the organization’s 5-year aims. Most of us have a hard time remembering the important goals and strategies we’re responsible for achieving because they aren’t communicated in ways that stick.
How Do I Fit In?
One of the most effective ways to help our teams really know what we’re asking them to achieve is to draw clear connections for them. It is important to help each team member see how his/her daily work connects to the goal. This requires us to tailor our communication to our audience, which might also require us to deliver the message multiple times in a variety of ways.
You may have heard the story about JFK and the janitor at NASA. During a tour of the headquarters, Kennedy asked the man what he did at NASA. The man responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” This man could see a clear through line between his role and what the organization was trying to accomplish. Leaders are responsible for ensuring each team member can see and articulate goals with such clarity. The same is true for organizational strategies. Strategies don’t mean anything, if people don’t understand what the strategy is supposed to achieve and how they fit into the plan.
To many leaders, the idea of spelling out this connection between individual roles and goals and strategies is baffling. If they work here, shouldn’t they get it? Shouldn’t they know what we’re trying to achieve? You’d be surprised. When our team members are focused on doing, doing, doing, it can be hard to pull back long enough to see the bigger picture. A leader’s facilitation of gaining this perspective can mean the difference between “mopping the floors” and “putting a man on the moon.”
3 Tips for Communicating Goals & Strategies
We can remember seven-digit phone numbers, but that is the maximum most of us can expect from our brain’s working memory. In fact, it’s even easier for us to remember the pattern of three-digits and then four-digits, than it is to memorize an uninterrupted pattern of seven. Our brains are super organs, but they do have limits. When presenting information to our teams, it’s important to remember less is more. Not only is it hard for us to keep track of a long list of goals and strategies, it’s also hard for us to successfully tackle multiple, significant priorities that require focused effort. Consider your own brain as you prepare to communicate organizational goals and strategies. How many goals can you meaningfully recite and own?
I sent an all-company email, so everyone should know. If this communication approach has ever worked for a leader, it would be a miracle. Humans need to hear things more than once. After an initial communication of organizational goals and strategies, consider revisiting them at one-on-one and team meetings. One-on-one meetings are an excellent time to not only restate goals and strategies, but to connect those to the individual’s daily responsibilities. The same is true for team meetings. Provide the connection between the purpose of the team and the larger purpose of the organization. It is also helpful to send a reminder about the organization’s goals and strategies on a quarterly basis. This communication can also include a progress update, to promote continued focus on what matters most.
In addition to needing to hear things more than once, we also need to hear messages in multiple ways. An effective approach for communicating organizational goals and strategies is to move from broad to narrow. The initial message about a set of goals and strategies can be delivered at an employee forum. This is typically followed by an all-company email, containing key points from the forum. Relying on the whole-group method first ensures everyone has heard the same message, from the same person, in the same way. The required participation in an employee forum leaves little room for, “I never got that email,” in case the follow-up email is overlooked. A whole-group communication is then narrowed for teams and individuals. It is important to consider the audience when moving to this level of communication. Are team members already conditioned and expected to read a weekly update email? Do you include important information at the top of meeting agendas? Think about the methods you already use to delivery key messages and use those to communicate and clarify organizational goals and strategies…more than once.