Manager Communication: Bridging the Divide Between Boardroom and Break Room

November 8, 2017 | Bridge | HCI
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Gathering from all over the globe, 45,000 runners completed the 2017 Chicago Marathon in early October.

If you’re like me, you could never run 26.2 miles in a single race without tons of training, motivation, and support from a knowledgeable coach with high expectations. When taking on a challenge of this scale, you have to trust your coach and leave the plan for success in his/her hands.

We’ve talked about how setting and achieving goals at work is akin to prepping for a marathon. But what if you find out the plan has changed and you’re now preparing to compete in a 400-meter dash? What happens when your coach decides that running sprints more closely aligns with success, regardless of your hard work to prepare for a marathon? Regardless of your desire to go the distance (literally)?

Wait a minute…

Employees face the same frustration in their jobs: Organizational leaders change their points of view, and goals change, too. No longer are employees working toward the goal they thought they were, and leaders expect the employees – and the entire organization - to pivot on the fly.

In situations like this, it’s no surprise when emotion takes over and employees become irritated and discouraged. How would you feel if some executive’s change of heart meant completely changing the goals that have held your attention for the past month?

The disconnect is evident. Only 55 percent of managers interviewed in a 2015 Harvard Business Review study could name at least one of their company’s top five priorities. So how can all employees be expected to be on board with any of these initiatives?

We’ve learned that goals should be value-driven, measureable and practical, whether we’re talking about marathon training or organizational growth and development. If leaders want to see success after company goals are defined, they must consistently maintain alignment and keep everyone on board for a win.

Achieving goal alignment at all levels of the organization will depend heavily on your middle and frontline managers. This group is essential because they are responsible for taking broad, strategic goals created in the C-suite and translating them into relevant, practical objectives for their people. Well-delivered, manager-led communication ensures that employees know what your organization hopes to achieve in the coming year and how their work will support it.

When well-constructed, insightful messages reach all members of your team, you’re set up for success whenever goals might change and the company takes a new direction. When managers do this regularly, employees should know not only what is changing about their work, but why it’s changing and how it links back to that new strategic initiative.

Let’s say you’re in sales and you’ve been working for months to reach a southeastern United States audience, but you’re interrupted by your CEO’s new decision to focus on expansion into Canada. Plus, the CEO wants a 25 percent increase in Canadian customers by then end of your fiscal year, which is two months away.

How do you adjust your goals, and how do you realign with a new target?

Managers make up the most crucial piece of how C-Suite leaders communicate decisions to all areas, all departments of the company. Managers are the go-to leaders between big picture goals and departmental, team, and individual goals. Managers take what was said in the boardroom and make it relevant to their people in the break room.

They’re the mid-level supervisors who transfer the message and expectations from senior leadership to lower-level employees – the intermediate parts that have to work together and keep the business moving forward.

So how do managers do it: keep everyone aligned, invested, and engaged?

Good managers localize team goals to cascade up to strategies developed by senior leadership. They’re not solving the company’s problems. They’re balancing service to their team with service to the big picture…easier said than done.

In the upcoming webcast, [Workplace Goals] Creates Success from CEO to Employees, learn how communication, team goals and evaluation of goals makes the manager’s role crucial to big, company-wide wins.