When Goals Shift in the Organization: Plan of Attack!

June 26, 2014

goals

The great thing about organizational transparency is the forecasting effect that comes with it. When everyone’s compass is pointing in the same direction, it is easier to spot an off-track team member, or project. Life happens and sometimes goals will have to change to accommodate. While these shifts are easier to spot in an organization that focuses on transparency, you still need to have a plan of attack.

What does this mean for me?

Almost any change within an organization is going to have a ripple effect. It doesn’t matter how small or big that effect is, it needs to be communicated before it is felt. Let’s say for instance that the launch of a new product is being pushed back two months. Each team needs to be made aware of exactly what that means for them, from the top, all the way down the ladder. What does this mean for the marketing department, the extra IT staff you hired on, or the sales team? Workplace communication expert and Inc.com contributor, Sarah Fenson said:

“Keep in mind that quantity is fine, but quality and consistency are crucial. Most CEOs and managers are quoted as saying, ‘You can't communicate too much,’ but you can communicate too much insignificant or insensitive information. You can't communicate too much significant, substantial information.”

It’s not enough to send a company-wide email out announcing whatever goal-shift the organization is experiencing. Each team needs a leader that will be able to tell them exactly what the shift means for them on an individual and team level. Even if leadership isn’t sure what the change means on the individual level yet, saying that is better than saying nothing at all.

Work together to redefine goals.

Doling out marching orders is a leadership method of the past. We have found that team decisions with all perspectives involved is a far better way to create relevant and realistic goals, especially in times of change. When executives, or leaders outside of a department set goals without specific insights, those goals have the potential to be completely out of context. A team is far more capable of setting and maintaining expectations together.

Additionally, this type of cohesion allows for clarity. When managers set goals and objectives, they tend to be chock full of jargon and vague buzzwords. So your company, who used to be totally focused on sales goals, is setting the new goal of reaching a 90% customer satisfaction rating. Your team hears, “Get better at customer service.” Okay…but how? Leadership expert Karen Hurt talks about getting clearer about goals:

“The only way to build sustained results is to improve the underlying behaviors. Don’t ask a sales rep to be more courteous. Ask her to open the door for the customer, use the customer’s name, and walk around the counter with the bag. Talking about the frequency of those behaviors will do more good than talking about her customer service survey percentages.”

Define how the new goals will move together.

An organization is made up of a lot of separate parts that have to move together in order to be optimally productive. Let’s stick with the pushed back launch date scenario. This could mean that your beefed up sales team will just be sitting around with nothing to do for two months, while administration is up to their neck in paper work and correspondence. Total organizational transparency will lead managers to the obvious solution of finding the properly skilled sales people to help out with administration during the push back.

Roger That?

“Roger that” is a common military communication term to ensure that all information has been received and understood. Leaders who are managing a goal shift need to ensure that the entire organization, down to the individual level, have heard and understood exactly what this shift means for them, their expected actions and new goals. The best way to make this confirmation is to solicit feedback from individuals on their perceived new goals and how they believe those goals will affect those of the organization as a whole. It will be very easy to determine who understands and who needs more help with new objectives.

It doesn’t matter how organized you are, there are some things that are simply out of anyone’s control. In leadership, you’re going to have to deal with your fair share of shifting goals. The aim is to use the information that you have available to you to forecast, prepare and attack the challenge.

Would you like to find out how to guide change, rather than react to itWe can help you today! 

Photo Credit: Olly2 via bigstock

Strategy, Business Strategy, Goals, Strategic Alignment, Talent Forecasting

Afton Funk
Afton Funk
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