Setting goals for your team can be challenging, but it is an essential part of any successful company. Here are some of the critical considerations and techniques to consider when creating and following up on goals.
Getting Started with Setting Goals for Your Team
Goals are a vital part of a productive work environment, and when implemented correctly, they can increase engagement and motivation across your team. The right goals can help individuals boost their overall effort and increase focus, and allow team members to prioritize their work. A lack of goals, or poorly set goals, on the other hand, can reduce focus, lower morale due to staff feeling less secure in their roles, and ultimately decrease productivity.
However, it can be challenging for a manager to know exactly what goals to set and how to set them, which is compounded by the fear that poorly set goals can have a negative impact. That said, it’s not as hard as you might think, so we’ve outlined some simple steps to help you set goals that inspire, engage and encourage your team.
What Do You Want to Achieve? Write it Down
The first step to setting effective and actionable goals is figuring out exactly what you want to achieve, or in other words, your organizational objectives. Having clearly defined high-level objectives will help you to figure out the smaller goals your team will need to hit in order to achieve them.
Don’t just think about these organizational objectives; actually write them down—this can help create the mental space needed to come up with more actionable goals for your team later down the line. In fact, research has found that writing down objectives gives you an 80% higher chance of actually achieving them. Some people are more visual when it comes to goal setting, in which case it might be advisable to post them clearly in the office. For digital teams, the same can be achieved through the use of collaborative online notes, allowing managers to visualize what they want and how to get there.
Set Team Level Goals
Setting team-level goals helps connect employees to company objectives while also fostering collaboration between team members for a more cohesive work environment. These goals act as a stepping-stone between individual tasks and the ultimate objectives of the company.
When creating these team-level goals, consider using some sort of goal productivity system such as SMART. This will help keep your objectives focused and achievable. Most importantly, to set team-level goals, you need to involve your team in the goal-setting process.
Team Participation in Developing Goals is Crucial
Involving your team in group and individual goal development is essential since it will help them feel invested in the objectives of the project and the company as a whole. The process will require a high level of communication and collaboration but will ultimately result in far more robust goals.
Setting objectives in a collaborative way can encourage team members to figure out how they can work together to meet those goals, playing to their individual strengths for a more efficient workflow. This will ensure the team members are more engaged in the tasks at hand and make sure that all tasks are aligned with those who can achieve the best results.
Deadlines are an Important Part of Goal Setting
While deadlines might bring up bad memories of late-night college papers for some, they are an essential part of setting goals. Deadlines for goals can:
Ensure work is delivered on time.
Help individuals plan out their workflow.
Keep each person in line with the wider team and company.
Make sure people aren’t held up by delays from other team members.
Set expectations for what is needed of an individual, team, or department.
Help people prioritize.
This final point may be the most important since prioritization helps people feel more in control of their work, and subsequently, more engaged with it. What’s more, one study found that 63% of respondents reported that not knowing the work that was their priority was the single biggest waste of time.
That said, it’s important to make goals realistic and achievable. A simple way to ensure this is to develop them with your team, as mentioned above. Once deadlines are agreed on, map them onto a shared calendar to ensure all team members are up to date and accountable.
Track Progress – Make it Measurable
Tracking the progress of a goal can help to keep team members motivated, on track, and accountable. Additionally, it makes it more likely that people will achieve (and even surpass) the goal within the given time. Progress tracking is most easily achieved through the use of productivity software, in which small steps can be tracked in a visual way.
Making progress measurable can help stop tasks from feeling overwhelming by breaking them down into smaller parts while keeping people working in the right direction.
Offer Incentives (Compensation, Rewards & Recognition)
Incentives for achieving certain goals or milestones can be a powerful motivator. This is true of both individual incentives as well as team incentives and may consist of:
Compensation – bonuses, raises, etc.
Rewards – gifts, services, etc. These can be especially effective for teams.
Recognition – praise, thanks, and even certificates.
It’s important to remember that bad incentives can be worse than no incentives at all since a low-effort reward or lack of recognition can make employees feel really undervalued. Tread carefully.
Help Your Team Meet Their Goals
Good goal setting doesn’t end once people have their objectives. They need to be fostered, adapted, and monitored as the work moves forward. This will help to make your working environment more agile and able to respond to changes and new challenges as they arise.
On a practical note, if you’ve been following the points so far, you’re well on your way to helping your team meet their goals already. Setting out broader objectives and tracking progress is key for ongoing success, and as you move forwards, use each success and failure to learn and improve goals.
Learn from Past Mistakes and Success
Mistakes should be used as opportunities to learn. Look back and reflect on what worked and what didn’t during previous projects, as well as any goals currently being worked on. Don’t be afraid to put your hands up, admit you made a mistake, and change things in an ongoing process of improvement.
The same can be applied for success. We often analyze why something didn’t work in order to learn from mistakes but rarely take the time to consider why something did work so it can be replicated in the future.
Use Positive Reinforcement to Praise Success
It’s easy to flag issues when things go wrong, but we often overlook successes by putting it down to “just how things are supposed to run.” Yes, team members are responsible for hitting their targets, but it’s still a success when they do!
Take the time to praise the achievement of individual, team, and company goals. This will help to reinforce the idea that the work is valued, as well as making sure employees know that goals aren’t arbitrary. There is nothing more demoralizing than putting in the extra effort to hit a goal and then feeling like nobody noticed—and people will be far less likely to go the extra mile in the future.
A big part of setting effective goals for your team involves having your team weigh in during the decision-making process. This should be kept in mind throughout, as goals are set, designated, and worked towards. Morale is important, so make sure that success is celebrated and rewarded while mistakes are learned from. Overall, communicate closely with your team and respond to the real-world impact of goals.
Team Goal Setting FAQ's
Goals are an essential part of any successful project. Goals increase engagement and motivation, boost the overall effort and focus, and help team members prioritize their work.
- Establish good lines of communication and collaboration.
- Make them feel connected to wider company objectives.
- Give them the space and support needed to collaborate with colleagues.
- Help them learn from your mistakes – feedback success and failure from past projects.
Setting team goals doesn’t have to mean sitting around a conference table, taking turns to tell the group your idea. Consider using post-its so people can make a collaborative objective map or use a whiteboard to map out how each person sees the journey towards the final aims.
Just getting your team involved will already make setting team goals a less dull and disconnected process.
There are many ways that group goals can be celebrated, and it depends on your wider company culture and the individuals on your team. At a minimum, all achievements should be recognized and praised, but also consider whether rewards such as gifts or services might work.
Team goals help build cohesiveness, improve motivation and foster a culture of transparency. The best way to set team objectives is through a methodology such as SMART, in which each goal is: