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Feedback Gets Easier When You Talk Goals More

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

The biggest reason you aren’t seeing optimal performance by others all the time is that they don’t see your goals the way you see them….And you don’t see what they’re seeing either.

Team members may be off in the weeds spending extra hours figuring out how to fix a minor problem. They may be having trouble doing something important but not asking for help. They may not see why and how business priorities are shifting……and……a lot of other things may be unclear to them. 

You Are the One

If you are their manager, their goals are your goals. So you are the very best person to talk with them about how their work contributes to the company’s success. You are the very best person to help them see a bigger and clearer picture of your shared future at work.  

Based on decades of research as an organization development consultant, I would go as far as saying every minute you spend in conversations about goals can save 30 minutes in greater productivity!

Here are 5 ways to make this happen:

1. When there’s a new goal, don’t just explain it once. 

Have multiple conversations about it and coax them into asking a lot of questions. If employees just say “OK” to a goal and go off on their merry way, they probably don’t understand what you are asking for. And it’s almost certain that there will be confusion ahead.

2. A day later, start another conversation. 

After employees have adopted a new goal, let them think about it for a day or so. Then make sure to discuss it again, so that you are still aligned. It’s so easy to take off on a tangent when goals are new. This creates extra work for everyone. It’s much better to get in synch earlier than later downstream.

3. Discuss priorities every few days (or daily in many situations).

The keys to this are for you to understand what’s slowing them down and/or for them to understand the business reasons why a new priority must be addressed and other projects re-prioritized. Trade-offs must be discussed by all of the major players as a group. This is a key tenet of the Agile daily “scrum” philosophy applied in software development teams & many other complex enterprises.

4. Ask them to explain the goal or priority with their own words and ideas.

Remain quiet and respectful in order to show your confidence in them. Explore important differences in a collaborative way and help them see the business reason for your version of the goal, while being open to having your own pre-conceived ideas shifted.

5. Find out what’s confusing them and clarify.

People usually have a burning question when their boss brings in new goals: How am I going to get all my old goals done now that we have this next big thing on the front burner? That is where your perspective comes in. Pre-empt this concern as often as you can by acknowledging their world as they see it: “I know you guys are scrambling to get this project done, but I’ve got your back while you attend to our new goal.”

Once the goals are clearer, you will have a lot less corrective feedback to give. And life will be easier!

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