There are lots of ways to set goals, and lots of ways to get going on achieving them. It’s pretty much the same approach when you are setting your own personal goals as to when you are setting those for your organisation. The difference is in the circle of people you consult with (more professional overlap for the org goals!), and then how widely you share them.

Sharing your personal goals helps you commit to actually making them happen. It’s not vital, but it’s certainly useful. Sharing your org goals is vital! It’s the only way they are going to happen, and it’s the only way that people will know what you are trying to achieve as a group.

Banging them in a slide deck and calling it a day is not going to cut it. That doesn’t give the alignment that you need to have everyone pulling in the same direction to chase down these big goals.

Instead, you need to get your comms plan in gear, figure out the arenas you can sell your goals in. Present them to people, tell them why these particular goals matter and why they are more important than other things we could be doing. Take questions and answer them honestly. Record some sessions for people who are on leave. Share them in Slack, put them on the Intranet (woo!) and finally point people to the deck!

Then repeat this, and go again. Talk about progress towards the goals, share the successful steps towards them and keep them in people’s minds.

This multi-channel approach might get decent visibility and some good buy-in, and the repetition will help, but you won’t actually know how aligned people are to these goals.

Ask them!

As a leader you’ve got more context, you know what’s going on and you have more background than most people in the org. It’s all obvious to you, but it might not be to the Individual Contributors doing the work.

So, ask some questions:

  • What is our top goal for the year?
  • Why are we going after this?
  • What are we not going to do?

Look for patterns in what comes back. What’s missing, what’s wrong, what has actually landed with people? Take these themes, then use them to rework your comms. Address the misconceptions, dive deep into the gaps and celebrate the good understanding.

You build alignment with clear messaging, repetition and rework.

It’s not a one-and-done deck and presentation, and if you think it is you are destined to fail.


Elevator Pitches

You need to be able tell someone what you do, and why it matters, in just a couple of sentences.

We tend to call this an elevator pitch, taken from the idea that you might be in a lift with someone, and you’ve only got the short time it takes to move between a few floors to show them what you can do.

You also need to have more than one of these pitches prepped. Imagine it’s your boss, a peer, someone in a different part of the org or even the CEO. Depending on who you are talking to, you want to be able to show your value in a way they will understand.

First off, get the long list written down. Think about the impact that you’ve had, projects you’ve led or products you’ve launched. List out these wins, cover the business value, why they are interesting to a specialist and what the 50,000 foot view looks like.

Next up, loop round, tighten them up (remember, only 2 sentences!). Take the best couple and practice saying them out loud. You want to loop through enough times that it feels natural to you, that you have the cadence down and that you aren’t rushing-to-fit-in-more-than-two-sentences-in-a-few-seconds.

If you want to go full on “Elevator Pitch”, then you finish off with some sort of hook. You might just want to raise awareness so that you are remembered in future interactions, or you might have some sort of request that you need to make.

In the pitch, you don’t have time for this, so don’t use those seconds to ask for extra people or some more resources. Instead, give the person something that they can come to you with.

Imagine that your value statement is: “We’ve just launched product X to country Y, and it’s driving a Z% uplift in annual revenue.”

That’s super good for your out of org colleagues, and probably works well for the CEO too, as it’s very commercially focused.

Now, if the thing you want is some support to go faster and launch to another country, then assuming that you got a positive reaction, you can follow-up the statement with “Let me book in a meeting to discuss how we can accelerate the rollout”. if you get an enthusiastic yes (or even a “Speak to my PA”), then you are much closer to reaching your goal than if you either went direct, or made the request without the pitch first.

So build your pitches, practice them. Refresh them to keep them current and tailor them to your audience. Raise awareness or leave a hook for future conversations.

A thousand times better than an awkward silence and a chat about the weather!