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Set priorities in the company – is it sometimes just a mirage?

The whole idea of having priorities set in the company is to say clearly what exactly you are deciding not to do, not to focus on and everybody follows. Does it always work 100%? Nope. When you ask various organisations you will notice that there is huge disconnect of what leadership and people think: leadership says that there are very clear priorities set, meanwhile people are lost and express the feeling that everything is a priority. How to make priorities reality?

Work on your behaviour

However strange it may sound, the fact whether priorities are fulfilling its goal depends very much on the behaviour in the organisation:

  • ​Leadership – the ones that make decisions on the strategic level are the ones that should show that their decision making is supported by company priorities: I mean, if organisation gonna focus on specific goals and will ask whole organisation employees make them happen, but at the same time continues making decisions that are not entirely in line with what is agreed, will be very harmful and people may be lost, what exactly is important and which leader to trust.

  • All the other layers of the organisation – sometimes it is important that people are not afraid continuously remind the leadership what is the direction they have set and challenge the new asks, that differ from set priorities. In fact this way people will encourage leadership to be accountable of their own decisions.

Whole problem of the situation, is that most of the time there are leadership representatives that are not willing to give up things or put something on pause, even though there are no capabilities in the organisation or those things are not concidered as must do for the organization. Therefore it is crucial that leadership agreements are respected by themsleves. Otherwise it will create a situation, that everything is important and leadership will not look like as a united front or trustworthy.

Keep it simple and communicate

As any task, priorities should be described in a very simple language, if you want them to be understood and followed by the whole organisation. It must be communicated via various channels and most importantly: no priority will work or will be ever achieved, if it is communicated in the begging of the year and results calculated at the end of the year. There should be a constant review of the progress and results achieved, which will be a reminder at the same time.

Reflect your priorities in yearly employee targets

Another important detail, that makes sure people’s awareness what are the priorities for the organisation - are set clear yearly targets (in different companies it is called KPIs (key performance indicators) or OKRs (objectives and key results). This is how you will not only measure the results, but as well will keep people focused. Just do not forget, that yearly goals for every employee should be:

  • understandable

  • easily measurable

  • influenceable - every employee should have a good understanding which functions will help him to achieve set targets

  • amount of targets to single person can be up to max. 5, through the year with different weights and delivery timelines.

Final thoughts

There are many organisations where priorities are just a mirage: senior leadership talks about it, but rest of the organisation has very little clue about it. This often happens, because of lack of leadership support with their decision making, lack of examplory behaviour, lack of clarity of what exactly should be achieved via set targets and lack of communication.


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