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How to do a better job
Setting organisational goals serves basic managerial functions in any business; they help evaluate and control performance, they inform and guide decision making, provide us with the metrics to compare performance with objectives and forecasts and the criteria for making any necessary adjustments along the way.
But what has struck us recently from working on a number of employee communications projects is the effect that simple, structured objective setting and effective communication of those objectives can have on the management and motivation and performance of employees.
From the research that we have done on the key elements that make up effective employee communications, most employees want (and need) to know four basic things about their work in order to feel comfortable with where they fit into, and how they can contribute to the performance of the organisation:
Context – why am I doing what I’m doing?
Objective – what do I need to accomplish?
Target – how well must I do it?
Measurement – how am I doing?
The benefits of understanding and communicating these basic elements of professional life are manifold:
Organisations need to coordinate the work of individual employees and work units, ensuring that everyone is pulling in the same direction anyway, but by providing background while setting individual performance targets is the most direct way of personalising organisational goals and context, allowing each employee to complete the right tasks in the most effective ways.
When an employee knows what needs to accomplished and what is expected, it’s a lot easier for that employee to work without constant supervision. And by helping employees understand how their individual work contributes to the overall goals of the organisation, they become enabled to make their own decisions about how to spend their work time so that their work in a way that is consistent with the priorities of the organisation.
This in turn results in teams that become more, cohesive, knowledgeable and empowered to do the right things, at the right time, without having to consult a manager on every little question. And for managers, well it then becomes much easier to manage proactively and positively rather than becoming distracted in tactics, micro-issues and day-to-day fire fighting.
And employees who can then monitor their own progress, look at their results as they go, identify any barriers to achieving goals and adjust strategies or tactical implementation as necessary begin to develop an evolving intelligence for their roles, becoming experts through practice, application and experience, which is the perfect environment for developing and delivering practical on the job innovation and problem solving.
Through our work in internal communications we have found conclusively that when the emphasis is placed on making sure everyone knows what they need to accomplish in the present and in the future, what needs to be done to succeed and what that success will look like, you very quickly answer those very basic human needs that we all have, for certainty and security and create an environment, and relationships, that make it easier for everyone to contribute and ultimately for us all to do a better job.