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When to abandon your goals

Shift direction without sacrificing morale

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Workplace Communication

A big part of a manager’s job is to set goals and then keep everyone focused on achieving them. But what happens when events disrupt your best-laid plans?

If you fall into the habit of announcing goals to your team and then changing them midstream (or forgetting about them entirely and moving on to something else), then no one will treat you seriously. That’s why you need to explain when and why goals get modified so that everyone understands where they’re going now.

Here’s how to guide your staff to embrace a new way of thinking when you discard your unit’s current goals:

Choose vivid imagery. Present the situation as a detour, not a derailment. Make it clear that you still intend to lead your employees to attain the same overriding objectives, but it’s necessary to map out a different way to get there. That means connecting the dots in a different way.

Use analogies to drill home your point. Example: “In sailing, it’s sometimes smart to tack a bit to stay the course.” If you’re announcing a dramatic reversal, you can say, “We’re like a restaurant that’s replacing its menu to attract a totally different clientele.”

Take a historical view. Put recent events in a broader perspective. By adopting a long-term view, you can show how success comes to organizations that stay nimble and redirect their objectives when necessary. Cite examples from your company’s history of times when new goals led to greater success.

Stay upbeat. Express excitement for your new strategy. Don’t appear crestfallen about having to abandon what you’ve started. If you’re optimistic about the benefits of changing course, others will follow your lead.

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