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How to focus your front-line workers on the most important goals

Do you ever feel like the disconnect between the leadership and the front-line workers is causing you to miss the mark on your most important goals? You aren’t alone. 

Nearly 4 out of every 5 front-line workers say that they aren’t held accountable for regular progress on the organization's goals.

And almost 9 out of 10 front-line workers say they have “no clear idea what they should be doing to achieve the goal.”

Sound familiar? The key to achieving your goals isn’t rocket science. The solution to fixing the leadership and front-line worker divide is simple to say, and difficult to execute.

I’ve extracted a theme written below from my own experience and popular books on leadership such as Traction, by Gino Wickman, and The 4 Disciplines of Execution, by Chris McChesney.

Focus on your most important goals

Think of your goals like future vegetables you will harvest. If you have ever tended a garden before, you know that pruning is the key to getting big beautiful flowers or vegetables. You must cut back the weak and the unnecessary in order to make way for the success of the plant.

Beautiful fresh cherry tomatoes on a wooden kitchen work surface

Your business goals are no different. Just as you can’t let every single tomato offshoot turn into a vine, you can’t let every great idea turn into a project or a goal. Instead you must edit the goals into a manageable list and focus wholeheartedly on your top goals.

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

- Alexander Graham Bell

Share your goals with your team

As an organization grows, the distance between the CEO and the front-line workers is ever increasing. Think about the game of telephone, where a piece of simple information can be distorted over just a few translations. Now think about your own team. How many “games of telephone” are your front-line workers subject to when they hear a message from you?

Close-up of microphone in barThe key here is to be clear and simple. Use words that are easy for everyone to understand. Tell your team why this goal is important to you. Then tell them what’s in it for them if the team achieves this goal together. People need goals to be connected not only to the “what” but also to the “why.” 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

-George Bernard Shaw

Post the progress on goals

You might be tempted to go get a ton of charts and post progress against every single goal you have as a business. I know a lot of manufacturers who update tens of metrics each month and print out new charts. Each metric has a target and an actual result, prompting a “gap analysis” when the target is missed. This practice is not necessary. I repeat, you do not have to do this!

Scoreboard above softball field on a spring day, blue sky and cumulus cloud in background

Instead, think about the top 1-2 goals that are important for your teams to hit, then think about how you can engage them in the actions to meet the goal. Think about any sport you’ve ever watched, the fans and the players have one scoreboard — one source of truth for where the team stands against the goal. This is what you need to replicate. The key is getting your front-line workers and your leaders to know:

  • Are we meeting the goal right now?
  • What can I do to help us meet the goal?

“People play differently when they are keeping score.”

Chris McChesney

If you can focus on your goals, share them with your team, and post the progress, you will achieve.

Jennifer Biggs
Jennifer Biggs
Jennfier has a passion for leading and motivating teams through cultural transformations. She believes that people come to work everyday to be great. Through her operational experience at P&G Manufacturing, she has seen the true potential of an engaged and empowered team. She joined Ampogee in 2018 after 7 years of Manufacturing Operations experience. She has an Executive MBA from UNC Chapel Hill and a BS in Chemical Engineering from NC State University.

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Do you ever feel like the disconnect between the leadership and the front-line workers is causing you to miss the mark on your most important goals? You aren’t alone.  Nearly 4 out of every 5 front-line workers say that they aren’t held accountable for regular progress on the organization's goals. And almost 9 out of 10 front-line workers say they have “no clear idea what they should be doing to achieve the goal.” Sound familiar? The key to achieving your goals isn’t rocket science. The solution to fixing the leadership and front-line worker divide is simple to say, and difficult to execute.