Communication represents the cornerstone of all business activities.
Maintaining effective channels of communication can propel a company towards unimaginable success, while poor communication can dramatically handicap operations and potentially bankrupt a business.
Supporting great communication demands establishing clear expectations and practicing discipline in the selection and use of specific communication channels. The 21st century business environment offers a variety of communication methods, however the more simple and direct the channel, the more likely a message will be effectively communicated.
Here, we examine a number of ways entrepreneurs can improve how they share executive goals and expectations by leveraging powerful methods of communication.
Establishing Goals & Expectations
The first step entrepreneurs should consider is to create a list of the specific goals and expectations they hold for themselves, as well as the company. This approach helps solidify the entrepreneur's personal aims and illuminate areas where their goals intersect with the strategic objectives of the business.
Second, entrepreneurs should encourage their colleagues to practice the same exercise both individually, and as groups. The individual exercise helps define personal goals, which improves focus and meaningfully enhances motivation.
Many don't think to write out their specific goals for the quarter or the year. Others consider the practice a rudimentary waste of time. Nothing can be further from the truth. The regular practice of writing down specific goals is an extraordinarily simple and effective way to improve personal efficiencies and self-empowerment.
Defining objectives as a group yields a number of benefits including;
1. Clarifying Corporate Objectives
2. Resolving Conflicts of Perspective & Purpose
3. Illuminating Areas To Improve Efficiencies & Collaboration
4. Align Perspectives & Incentives Towards A Common Goal
Aligning a company's internal stakeholders to a common purpose and long-term vision is the greatest benefit of collectively defining corporate objectives.
With clearly defined objectives established, managers and staff can place more energy and focus on executing the objectives, rather than perpetually questioning expectations and defining goals.
Central to this endeavor is clearly communicating what the executive goals are. This responsibility falls on the entrepreneurial leader who must leverage whatever mechanism, technology or technique available to communicate their vision. Without effective means of communication, even the most well defined goals will not be effectively understood or accepted by the group.
Effective communication methods are direct which involves face-to-face conversation. Communicating goals via email, or memo, or another distributed means will muddle the essence of the objectives and confuse expectations.
Carefully and effectively communicating goals provides an added level of clarity that improves the individual and collective ownership of respective corporate duties and responsibilities.
To effectively communicate a strategic goal it is important that the objective is concisely framed with simple language. An executive objective can following the following structure:
Executive Objective: (Example)
Our aspiration is to build XYZ Company into an industry leading company that endures as one of the most recognizable and respected brands across the globe, known for inspiring and nurturing the human spirit.
While the specific goal in this example is vague, the structure is sound and can be easily replicated. The objective is comprised of; an aspirational statement, followed by a statement of qualifying support, with a specific aim defined.
Developing executive level goals and expectations can include a variety of strategic aims including the following concepts:
1. Becoming the undisputed leader/authority in our market.
2. Engaging and inspiring our partners.
3. Improving our career development training at all levels of our business.
4. Igniting emotional attachment with our customers by emphasizing...
5. Fulfilling our customer-centric goal by continually addressing the needs of our customers and providing specific value to them congruent with our brand & core values.
6. Developing programs which reward our loyal customers.
7. Expanding our worldly presence to build local relevancy by respectfully reflecting the particular tastes of diverse cultures across different markets.
8. Becoming a leader in corporate ethics and environmental impact by supporting conservation efforts to improve/protect/sustain the environment.
9. Extending our brand to new product platforms.
10. Delivering a sustainable economic model for our stakeholders.
11. Providing added value to our shareholders.
12. Delivering on our promises.
13 Maintaining the clarity of our long-term vision as the business grows.
After defining executive level goals, it is valuable to identify a number of sub-objectives that can support executing the company vision. Breaking down goals as specifically as possible will reduce uncertainty among staff members, which has the added benefit of enhancing efficiencies.
Strategic goals that lack sub-objectives can result in confusion, a loss of direction and process delays.
Entrepreneurial leaders should make it clear that achieving the strategic goal requires fulfilling the specific sub-objectives because they build incrementally towards the executive vision.
Practically, building a list of sub objectives is dependent on the type of business as well as the strategic complexity of the executive vision.
The more undefined a strategic vision is, for instance; "Our aspiration is to build XYZ Company into an industry leading company", the more granular the sub-objectives must be in order to effectively communicate an actionable strategy.
The more closely aligned a list of sub-objectives are to a corporate vision the more likely they are to establish common purpose among the people executing on the objective. In this way, setting clear goals and expectations helps foster a more cohesive and efficient work environment and more confident teams.
After determining your executive goal and sub-objectives, the real challenge for entrepreneurial leaders naturally becomes fulfilling them.
Fulfilling Executive Objectives
Executing defining corporate objectives requires cultivating the right expectations at all levels of a company. This involves breakdown expectations between executive leaders, managers and staff, with the goal of minimizing as much confusion about responsibilities and accountability as possible.
The more granular and precise the expectations, the more efficient the business will operate as a whole. It is also important for entrepreneurs to be as objective as possible when defining expectations.
Defining expectations involves asking people how to act in the workplace, and how their actions will be measured.
This practice can become very personal. Entrepreneurs should always work to clarify that the purpose of setting expectations is to fulfill broad corporate objectives and not to dictate individual behavior.
Entrepreneurs should avoid singling out individuals or describing expectations as prescriptions. Doing so will foster resentment and produce conflict.
For expectations to be effectively communicated, they should be expressed as collective goals.
A corporate objective may be defined as:
We want to double our sales next quarter.
A corporate expectation to support that objective can be defined as:
We expect to sign 5 new clients in order to achieve our objective.
In order to ensure that corporate expectations are well defined and strategically appropriate consider adhering to this simple framework. Broadly, speaking gals and expectations must fulfill the following criteria:
They should be clearly defined and easily understood.
They should be easily quantified, typically by sales or another economic measurement.
They must be achievable with the resources and staff currently available.
They must be realistic given the assets and constraints of the business.
E. Time Limited
They must be achievable within a specific period of time.
Defining objectives according to these criteria will ensure that expectations are communicated with clarity among the stakeholders responsible for fulfilling the corporate objective.
The responsibility to effectively communicate expectations and goals rests on the entrepreneurial leaders. Entrepreneurs must practice both their organizational skills to effectively develop clear goals and expectations, as well as their communication skills to effective express the objectives to their colleagues and staff.
The practice of communicating goals and expectations involves synthesizing a number of essential leadership functions that entrepreneurs should proactively embrace.
They include the following activities:
1. A Manager Sets Objectives
Leaders set objectives, not support staff. Entrepreneurs decide how to define the objectives, and communicate the goals to the people involved in achieving them.
2. A Manager Organizes
Leaders identify the sub-objectives and decide what should be prioritized. Managers break down activities into specific jobs, select the right people for the jobs, and group people into clearly defined units. It is the entrepreneurs responsibility to make sure all individuals, units and groups align to the corporate objective.
3. A Manager Motivates
Leaders inspire people by making realistic case by case "people decisions" on compensation, promotion and placement. Leaders foster a strong team spirit by constantly communicating with colleagues on staff on where they are succeeding, and what they can do to improve in encouraging and positive ways.
4. A Manager Measures
Leaders establish units of measurement to track performance, establish yardsticks and ensure that each individual is assessed for the tasks within his/her control. Leaders are responsible for communicating the metrics of measurement so that all stakeholders are aware of them, and they must provide the right tools to their colleagues and staff to execute the corporate objectives.
5. A Manager Develops
Leaders are vested in advancing themselves and others. Entrepreneurs should be emotionally and professionally invested in improving their competences as well as the skills and strengths of people around them. Demonstrating real interest in helping others, particularly subordinates, improves team chemistry, trust, engagement, and motivation. Caring for others cultivates a productive and harmonious work environment.
The best entrepreneurial leaders are self-less in their approach to the group lead, and commit to improving the wellbeing of their colleagues and staff. To effectively communicate goals and expectations and implement strategies to execute them, business leaders should proactively demonstrate their care and concern for the professional experience of their team.
To lead people, walk beside them... As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate... When the best leader's work is done the people say; we did it ourselves!
- Lao Tzu
Leading with compassion will cultivate respect, loyalty and commitment to the company's cause, and to effectively inspire a team to act towards a desired outcome, the needs of the group must always come first.
A remaining element for entrepreneurs to consider for any effort to communicate goals and expectation is to practice a degree of sensitivity when expressing the objectives.
The challenge for entrepreneurs is that no two individuals or groups are the same. What may be an effective approach for one person is oftentimes an ineffective method for another, and the same logic applies to groups.
Entrepreneurs must therefore be self-aware of how they express themselves, and aware of how their expressed statements are received. It is the responsibility of entrepreneurial leaders to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals and groups they lead.
For people to effectively execute on an established corporate objective, they must be properly motivated to act and convinced that they can achieve the goal with the resources available to them.
Defining how sensitive and aware an entrepreneur should be is difficult. It is entirely dependent on the character and disposition of the team.
The important thing for entrepreneurs to keep in mind is that the effort to be aware and to practice sensitivity is oftentimes more valuable than a specific outcome. People can easily recognize when a leader attempts to act compassionately and they will demonstrate their appreciation in kind.
This reality reinforces the need for entrepreneurs to place the needs of the group first. It is the surest way to cultivate a sense of mutual trust between individuals that supports a strong team chemistry, and an environment where the people believe in the work that they do, and who they are doing it for.
This is the foundation of building a distinct and rewarding company culture.
When individuals feel respected and have the support of their leaders, they are more likely to sustain an open and honest dialogue between all stakeholders, which improves efficiencies across the company, and surpass the goals and expectations set by executive leaders.
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