Communicating

Take advantage of goals to get your point across.

Lack of communication is the main reason for disorganization in the workplace. Here are a few guidelines you can use to write and use goals that convey the right message:

  • Use goals to break down the long-term company strategy into more manageable and tangible bits.
  • Team goals are best written by domain experts.
  • Incorporate goals into the work routine.
  • Let employees write their own individual goals.
  • Make goals public to improve inter-team communication and understanding.

Let's see why.

Don't mess with your internal communication

guy-with-obama
A miscommunication in action - image posted on Reddit

We've all had our communication failures. Sometimes for the better - you get sent into a meeting with President Obama and you don't know why. Sometimes for the worse. While getting the message out logistically is easy, knowing what to say, when and to whom remains difficult. Goals are more than a vector of personal performance: they convey your company culture and long-term objectives. Consider that setting your company objectives is your first communication exercise. What matters to the company? What do you want employees to focus on in the next quarter/year/5 years? Employees need this context to understand their role in the organization. New hires can get up to speed faster with a well defined company mission at their fingertips. The company leadership should write company objectives but consider involving your marketing specialist as well to make the formulation more effective and impactful.

Be specific

Now when employees go back to their desk, they need more guidance than a mission statement about saving the world or disrupting the paperclip industry. This is where team goals come into play. They should speak the team's language. For instance, tell your engineers about compilation times and what programming language is best and your sales team about the number of leads in your sales pipeline. Treat the team goal as a second communication exercise. It's unlikely that the same people who came up with the company objectives will be qualified to write team goals. Different levels call for different goal "communicators."

Be persistent

Writing goals is half the battle. Without a good structure to support goals, their message will be lost in all meetings and emails employees get throughout the year. When it comes to communication, frequency is key. Goals should live outside of the not-so-frequent performance reviews and be at the forefront of everyone's mind. With a goal management software, employees see the strategy in their day to day work. The message will be much more powerful than a town hall meeting's.

Update frequently

Goals that are set annually or semi-annually, tend to be more vague because it is impossible to accurately describe what employees should work on 6 or 12 months in the future. Individual goals should typically be set by quarter. The message will be clearer, more fine-grained, and more memorable.

Internal communication goes both ways, so should goals

Corporate communication has recognized early on that top-down is as important as bottom-up. The same still holds true and goals can once again help here. Let individuals come up with their own goals. They tend to know the ins and outs of their job the best and will be more motivated when they get a say. Employee's buy-in is an important part of making the goal message "stick". Take the goal setting time as an opportunity for managers to spot miscommunications and listen to what motivates employees.

Why not be public?

The last part of the communication is "horizontal" between teams and across the company. We encourage you to make goals public. There are exceptions (and Workfuze Goals supports them) but they should remain exceptions. It has many benefits: employees are more trusting of management, feel more connected to the rest of the team, and can easily learn from and contribute to what others work on. The objection that is holding most of us back is: what happens when things don't go so well? This is a concern, but don't underestimate the power of the water cooler (or its digital version): everyone will eventually find out anyway. Be proactive with even more communication.