One of the most important parts of any job, whether you are an employee,
manager or executive is communication. Without regular communication
among all the parts of your company, projects will fail, tasks will
go incomplete and business will suffer. Furthermore, as an employee,
if you are not communicating with your manager enough to know that
you are doing the most critical work of the moment, you risk your job,
as well. Have you talked with your manager today? Managers? Have you
talked with your employees today? Does everyone know the critical path
through this day, this week , the month? If not, why not?
Two different paths
One of the most common problems in any department, whether high-tech
IT or traditional accounting, is employees who don't know what work
they should be doing. If the goals of management are not being adequately
communicated to the staffers, then there is almost no hope of accomplishing
those goals. Yet, I see this nearly every day in every type of company.
So, what is an employee to do. First, talk to your manager. Talk
to them until you have a clear idea what they expect, what goals
need to accomplish and even how they might like to see them accomplished.
In some cases, you might have to help your manager put these goals
into words. Not every manager is the best communicator, even though
they might be very good at their job in other ways. You don't want
to harass your manager, but you do need to make it clear that without
direction from them, you might not be focusing on the most critical
work of the department. External pressures from other departments,
clients and upper-level executives can easily distract you without
a clear mandate from your immediate manager.
Confusion from above
Of course, in some cases, your manager might not understand the goals
of her position, let alone yours. I am sure you have seen this in
departments that seem to drift from one crisis to another, never
sure what is most
important from day to day. This could be the fault of your immediate
manager, but blame can often be laid at the foot of upper management,
as well. Just as you need to communicate with your manager, executives
need to communicate with their CEO and vice versa. Miscommunication
at the top simply filters downward, growing more confused from level
If you are stuck in a company such as this, you might consider starting
a new job search. While companies can often blunder along for years
without clearly communicated goals, they will eventually fail in
some way. Worse still, your work will become much more difficult,
you are always searching for clarity among the fog of management
instead of simply doing the work that most needs done.
What to do?
Let us assume that you are blessed with a good manager who clearly
understands the task at hand. Set up a meeting with him or her specifically
to discuss the goals of the department. Hammer out the top 3 goals
and then communicate them to everyone else in the department. Sure,
there will be other on-going work that conflicts with these goals,
but that simply must be done. You will be able to do them and return
to working on the goals again. Once you have established your most
important goals, you have somewhere to return your focus, once the
crisis has passed, instead of simply moving onto the next crisis.
Most importantly, if either you, you co-coworkers or your manager
feel that goals have changed, either due to information from above
change in circumstances, it is time to meet again and re-evaluate
the top 3 goals immediately. You don't want to be working towards
that has been rendered unnecessary. Don't simply continue out of
inertia. Stop, re-evaluate and then go back to work on the important
as you now see them.
Communication, anywhere in the business hierarchy is not simply something
you do once and then forget. Companies don't create one advertisement
for their products and then stop. No, you need to communicate every
day, every week, every month -- however often it is necessary to
insure that everyone, from the top to the bottom of the organization
exactly what they are trying to accomplish, both individually and
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