Written By: Van Nguyen

Any manager who has ever had to lead a group of coworkers has asked themselves, “How do I effectively communicate our goals and expectations?” Everyone on a business team has a different learning style and attention span. In researching communication in the workplace, here are some themes I’ve come across again and again.

  1. Communication is a 2-way street. Remember, you have to listen as well as talk. When working with a coworker to develop goals, share your goals and what you see as their part in reaching those goals. Keep it short and concise. Then, listen to what the other person has to say about it. Do they truly understand what you wish from them? Sometimes they may hear or read something else into what you’ve tried to communicate. Have an open discussion about each other’s thoughts and feelings on the topic. All parties have to have the same understanding of the goals or you may end up working toward separate goals.



    1. Be an active listener. Listen to the other’s words as well as tone. Also look for non-verbal cues. A person’s tone and body language may tell you how they are feeling. Is the other person engaged? Are they enthusiastic about what is being said or what they are saying? Are they yawning or fidgeting? Are you yawning or fidgeting? A person who is making eye contact, has their arms uncrossed, and is sitting forward is engaged in what is being said. Change strategies if the current one isn’t working.
    1. Know who you are communicating with and decide the right medium in which to communicate. Some people will understand and retain information better when they’ve been told things verbally. Others work better with email. Still, others work better with a physical, printed piece of paper. Consider communicating initially one way and following up in another way to reinforce what you wish to communicate. If you pay attention to each team member individually, you’ll begin to notice over time what works best for whom.
    1. Lead by example. Show others that you believe in what you are telling them. An employee will look to the manager to see what they should be doing and if they are doing it correctly. For instance, if the manager is not getting work completed on time or not responding in a timely manner, then the employee may feel that they have some leeway there too. If you don’t “live it,” why should they?
    1. Be open to new ideas. Those who do the work will often have the best ideas on how to improve it. We hire talented people for their skills and insight. Listen to what they have to say. Discuss if the new ideas may work and how to implement them. The way something is being done may work, but there could be a better solution.

    The most effective way to communicate goals and expectations is to reach the goal together. Express your vision and listen to the feedback. Work as a team to come up with the best solution for achieving that vision. Make sure everyone, including yourself, is working toward the same goal.