How to communicate your targets and actively manage expectations

After being knocked out in the first round of the World Cup in Russia and then relegation in the UEFA Nations League, the German national football team is now facing a radical change.

Qualification for the 2020 European Championship has been stated as the target of the restructuring. Certainly an attainable target, although the German fans, sponsors and journalists, usually spoilt with success, have greater expectations of the national team coach Löw and his team: Should we aim to reach the quarter-final of the European Championship, or would we like to be playing for the title? When should Germany again be one of the top 3 in the FIFA world rankings, after the formerly leading nation has meanwhile slipped down to 14th place?

Sports people and teams always set themselves clear targets and work consistently to achieve them. Also for companies, it is necessary to specify concrete objectives, in particular for strategies and projects. However, management personalities find it difficult to communicate these objectives in a target-group-oriented way. Here, active, regular and targeted communication contributes positively to informing, activating and inspiring target groups and to managing their expectations.

1) Communicate realistic targets

A team that does not announce a target before a season begins is lacking a “season mission statement”. However, this is necessary for all involved, as from it develops the common will of a unit to want to achieve this target at all costs.
Set a small number of realistic targets and communicate them. Clearly defined targets serve purposes of orientation, motivation and leadership for your employees. For them it is important to know what their company wants to achieve in the coming financial year, or even in the next five years. What turnover is to be generated? Which markets do we want to expand into? How should the organisation align itself better with changing market or customer requirements? Inform, explain and give reasons for what you want to achieve in what period together with your employees and why.

2) Make yourself measurable

Imagine a team communicates no concrete objectives. After a game or at the end of the season, those responsible say that they are satisfied with what was achieved, whereas everyone has seen that more was possible.
Get away from the approach of not stating concrete objectives only in order in retrospect to be able to present what was ultimately achieved as positive. Underline your targets in your communication with facts, figures and data. Realistic targets or target ranges increase your accuracy. Avoid lack of transparency only in order to prevent, internally and externally, the measurability of the company performance.

3) Actively communicate the development

A series of player injuries may result in the season target not being achieved. Equally, a team may perform better than expected, so the season target is achieved early or may have to be raised.
A target period is long, and events may occur that make it necessary to redefine your targets. Whether home-made or the result of external factors: Every deviation or redefinition can be explained. Communicate the reasons and explain to your target groups the consequences and the measures that you are introducing or have introduced to achieve or correct the target. Select the earliest possible time to do this. You can manage existing expectations best by taking active measures.

4) Company objectives before personal targets

The objectives of teams are endangered if individual players act in their own interest instead of in the interest of the team. Or also discuss the problem, instead of working on the solution.
Company and project objectives are the priority, personal targets must contribute to company success. State in your communication how you want to achieve the common objectives. Why is the priority the best solution for the target group? Why are changes necessary and how can you as the person responsible support this process? Activate and inspire your employees for the common targets with regular communication. Emphasise incentives, but also contributions that you expect. In this way, you can, among other things, reduce problem-focussed discussions or the clinging to the status quo.

5) Make sure of a good feeling

Achieving the season target gives teams a good feeling. They get confirmation of their own ability to perform and of the fact that effort and commitment have paid off.
With your communication, you can reinforce this feeling of success in your projects. For all involved, it is great to find out that the set targets have been achieved together, and that the target group is satisfied or even delighted after this added value has been created for them. For you as the person responsible, there will also be a feeling of elation at being able to communicate the successful achievement of a target, in particular if something special has been a joint success.

Conclusion: Benefit from the power of communication

As a management personality, you can benefit from the power of communication in order to lead your target groups actively and to manage expectations. For this purpose, communicate realistic targets. Make yourself measurable in an appropriate manner. Communicate the current development and ensure that all involved place the achievement of the overall objective before the achievement of their personal targets. Communicate regularly in your projects: at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. Communicate actively in order to inform, activate and inspire your target groups.

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