How to Effectively Communicate Goals to Your Team (and Get Their Buy-In)

Higher Ed Leadership Series

Setting clearly defined and mapped-out goals is crucial to any team’s long-term success. However, your team doesn’t want to be told, “Here is my goal, and this is the plan to execute.” 

You want your team to feel invested and motivated to be a part of the team and organization’s long-term goals while also ensuring the project has a positive impact on their work experience and career growth. 

They want to be part of the decision-making and planning process, even if you’re directing it. For many women in leadership, especially women of color, it can be challenging to navigate the line between rallying your team toward your vision and being too much of a “control freak.” 

In this newsletter, I’m discussing how to walk that balance to foster a collaborative environment where your team is invested in your goals for the team, department, or organization.

Establish the Vision

Motivation and inspiration come when your team knows what they’re working towards. Establish the fundamental vision of where you want the team, project, or organization to be in six months, three years, five years, and ten years.  

Ensuring your team knows the vision before planning the strategy will excite them about their role in the changes or growth, encourage them to commit long-term to the goals, and motivate them to work together to achieve them.

Here are some ways to bring your team into the beginning stages of the vision:

  • Brainstorming Sessions: Conduct brainstorming sessions to gather ideas and insights from team members.
  • Feedback Loops: Encourage open discussions and feedback on proposed goals.
  • Consensus Building: Strive to build consensus, ensuring everyone feels their voice is heard and valued.

If the vision and goals include other departments and teams, bring them in to ensure you’re supporting alignment across different teams and departments.

Communicate Clearly

It’s essential to communicate the goals before diving into strategies, planning, and delegating.

When you communicate your goal, you’re achieving the following:

  • Alignment: Ensures everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.
  • Motivation: Clear goals can inspire and drive your team to achieve their best.
  • Efficiency: Reduces misunderstandings and wasted efforts, streamlines processes, and increases productivity.

However, clear communication can sometimes be tricky as we all communicate and absorb information differently. Here are my biggest tips to ensure you communicate clearly:

  • Simple Language: Use straightforward and unambiguous language.
  • Contextual Information: Provide context on why the goals are important and how they fit into the bigger picture.
  • Written & Verbal: Some people need to hear the information, and others need to read it. Ensure you have meetings, webinars, or calls and send follow-up emails, notes, or PDFs.
  • Visual Aids: Use visuals like charts, graphs, and slides to illustrate the goals and progress metrics.

This will ensure you include everyone’s preferred communication styles, meaning they will all feel seen and heard while knowing that you value their contribution. 

Monitor Progress

There are four essential parts of managing projects to achieve goals. 

First, ensure you’re using multiple communication channels to ensure everyone on your team absorbs information based on their communication style. Here are some examples of different ways team members absorb information:

  • Meetings: Regular team meetings to discuss goals and progress.
  • Emails: Detailed follow-up emails outlining goals and action plans.
  • Project Management Tools: Utilize tools like Trello, Asana, or to track goals and tasks.

Secondly, establish clear roles and responsibilities. You should clearly define each team member’s role in achieving the goals. Then, you will need to assign specific tasks and responsibilities to individuals. Defining who is responsible and who owns each part of the project can create a sense of pride in an individual’s workload. 

Thirdly, set up means of communicating updates and maintaining accountability; this could be through project management tools or daily/weekly check-in calls. Work with your team to find the most effective way to achieve the goal.

Lastly, make sure deadlines are in place. Deadlines, while flexible, are essential to hitting benchmark KPIs and progressing the goal forward. During the goal-setting process, use SMART goals to ensure you’re setting a realistic timeline to achieve your goal with your team and that your team feels optimistic about the process. 

Fostering a Collaborative Environment 

The final but most important thing to ensure your team is committed, motivated, and invested in your goals is to foster a collaborative environment where your team feels heard, valued, and trusted. Three of the best ways to do this is through:

  • Open Door Policies: Promote an open-door policy where team members can discuss concerns and ideas freely.
  • Team Building Activities: Engage in team-building activities to strengthen relationships and trust.
  • Recognition and Rewards: Recognize and reward contributions and achievements to boost morale and motivation.


At the end of the day, how you lead affects how your team grows and develops. If you maintain a positive and excited attitude toward your vision, goals, and projects, your team will mirror that energy.

Women of color in leadership positions bring their unique perspectives and energy to higher education teams nationwide. These insights are incredibly invaluable to your organization and your department. However, there can be times when we experience imposter syndrome regarding our skills and experience.

While you might doubt your abilities or need help getting your team rallied behind departmental goals, you are in your position for the past performance, experience, and wisdom you bring to the table. Being in this role means you have the power to make your institution a better, more diverse, and positive workspace.

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