Here we sit nearly halfway through the year and yet, I can’t even tell you how many of the professionals I speak with are not able to clearly and concisely articulate their goals. Imagine what this means for the people who report to them!

When everything is a priority, nothing is. Ideally, goals cascade through the organization. In other words, the annual goals for the organization are tied to the company’s vision. And then each executive delineates how the work of their piece of the organization will contribute to these goals. Ultimately, like a house of cards, each level builds upon the last until you come to the frontline employee. In the best of organizations, the frontline employee can not only explain their goals but is also able to describe how these goals contribute to the organization’s goals.

Unfortunately, more often than not, what I find when speaking with managers is that they feel as though they are at the whim of the wind. When the wind (like a new idea) blows in, the house of cards is toppled. The manager finds themselves trying to reorient themselves and those who report to them. They may be able to find the tenuous connection between this new directive and the organization’s goals.

It is incumbent upon us, as managers, to make this simple and succinct for our employees and ourselves. So, how do we do this if those above us aren’t making it clear for us? By asking questions. Questions like:

  • How will we measure the success of our department this year?

  • How does this new project fit into the established priorities of the department? Or, have the priorities changed, and why?

  • Are there items we are working on now that are being deprioritized as a result of this shift in direction?

Understanding what our goals are, enables us to make clear decisions about where we should be focusing our time and resources. As managers, it is our responsibility to ensure that those who work with and for us know what they should be doing and why it is important.