Communicating Project Goals to Your Team Members

Linh Tran, Monday 12 October 2015 | Reading time: 5 min.

Communicating project goals to your team members

Photo via public domain archive

Every project has a goal or objective – but it’s not always easy to communicate these goals to the project team. Clear goals are important to motivate and energize the team and to achieve better project outcomes. On the other hand, not knowing or understanding goals will lead to confusion and ineffectiveness. 

In the last few weeks we have covered intercultural communication and we’ve also written about effective communication before. In this post we’re going to concentrate on how to communicate project and organizational goals to your team effectively:

Set motivating goals

Before you can communicate goals with your project team, you need to set them first. Project objectives should always align with the overall organizational strategy. You can use goal setting methods such as SMART to set effective and motivating goals. Only if your team members feel an emotional attachment to the goals, because it aligns with their personal goals, will it energize them to do their best to achieve them.

The method

There are many ways to communicate goals: you can convey them via a formal document or direct communication. Whatever way you choose, it’s important that you define a clear communication process and method and stick to it. Writing down the goals is good, but you need to accompany that by directly communicating it to your team members. Just like how people don’t read the terms and conditions, they’re likely to ignore a company or project document or only skim it. To make sure that your message comes across, tell your team directly about it.

Be confident

If you want your team to accept the goals that you have set, you need to be confident when communicating them. Because even a perceived insecurity on your side can cause the team to doubt the feasibility and value of the goal. It will cause confusion and even passivity in your team because they don’t see the point of wasting time and effort into achieving a seemingly pointless goal. So, as a leader speak with a clear and steady voice and convey the goals with assertiveness and confidence.

Communicate clear expectations

The team can only work towards achieving the goals if they know exactly what you expect from them and what role they hold in the project. As a project manager you need to provide a structure for your team and set expectations and priorities, as well as assign roles carefully. The expectations as well as the overall goal shouldn’t be fuzzy. A vague goal such as “hopefully increase sales in maybe a few months or so” will achieve nothing. Avoid filler words and be explicit: “Our goal is to increase the sale of product X by 5% via strategy Y by November 3”.

Ongoing dialogue

Leaders are responsible for setting goals, but it is the team that has to implement them, so you need to work together. Remember that communication is always a two-way street and you also need to hear out your team’s feedback. Sometimes goals set by upper-management are just not feasible or at least not in the way they want it to be. Involving your team in the goal setting process and having a feedback process is the best way to assure that they will back your goals and do their best. An ongoing dialogue is also important to make sure that the team knows immediately when there are changes to the goal.

Rinse and Repeat

Goals are often communicated at the start of a project, but people forget all about them over the course of the project. Project teams often have to do their regular work next to the project work and thus, it is easy for them to get sidetracked and lose focus. This is why you need to constantly remind them. Reiterate the overall project objective before each status and review meeting so that it becomes engraved into the team’s minds so they can concentrate on working towards achieving it. 

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