Best Practices for Setting Team Goals
Setting team goals and sticking to them is hard. Learn best practices for setting achievable team goals in this post.
There is nothing better than the feeling of satisfaction that comes from crossing something off on your list. Whether it be a marketing manager finalizing a draft or a team who just reached their Q1 goal, the gratification that comes from knowing you’ve finally achieved the work you’ve needed to is unlike any other. However, for many people, and teams, it can be very disempowering when check marks start to feel sparse and the action item list only keeps growing.
In situations like these, it is a vital first step that teams know how to create effective goals. Goals propel the workflow to move forward and create more opportunities of accomplishment. When considering how teams, more specifically, managers of teams, think about goal creation, it can be easy to get stuck in the weeds of picking a completion date or the nuances of the language we use. Even more, it can feel as if the goal is never attainable given the number of things that will have to be crossed off the list in order to see progress. However, we need to remind ourselves that a goal, in its simplest form, is an outline of where we would like to go in the future, and the necessary steps we need to achieve in order to get there.
Effective goal creation is also a crucial practice for managers and team members for increasing motivation, task management, and productivity. While it can be daunting, goal setting, when broken down into consistent and clear steps, just becomes one large to-do list for teams to work through together. In order to cultivate team synergy and elevate team health, managers are encouraged to articulate a process that makes goal setting digestible and rewarding, as building quality goals is integral to both individual and team performance.
Team goals aren't just about performance either. Team goals can create a bond between team members charged with a shared mission.
Before starting the goal articulation process, it is important to understand the steps that go into making a quality goal. While there are many different ideologies on goal making, such as the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) or OKR (Objectives and Key Results) goal process, a simplified system will help teams excavate the core purpose of their work as well as understand everything that needs to get done. For this reason, goal setting can be broken down into three main categories: goals, measurable key results, and actions.
Goals should be the vision of where you want to go. Goals do not always need to be quantitative and can be an overarching value your company has, such as having good internal culture or having a great candidate experience in the employee recruiting process. However, while the goal itself does not need to be a metric, it is vital that the key results within the goal are. Key results are achievable and measurable outputs that make up the outcome of a goal. It is important that every manager makes this distinction, as we want teams to be results driven, not activity driven. If managers were to just focus on key results, such as hitting 50,000 viewers for a new recruiting video, then they would be focusing on the output and not the true outcome, how the increase in viewers impacted a ‘candidate experience.’ Thus it is integral that managers know how to articulate the differences between goals and key outcomes when working with their teams. When a goal is achieved, key results are the proof of that achievement.
Once the goals and key results have been identified, it will be easy to make a list of actions that must be completed under each key result, otherwise known as the steps your team will be able to cross off as you move through your goal. Examples of this could be “post the recruiting video on LinkedIn,” or “send video to the undergraduate email list.” It is important to note that these actions can sometimes constrain other outstanding items from occurring until completed; it will be important that your team work through the cadence of the to-do list to ensure you can get the work done as quickly and effectively as possible. By making this list, your team is able to manage and visualize the workflow within different KRs and help manage potential gaps that occur.
Now it is time to start creating quality goals with your team. Below are the questions you should ask yourself when articulating the three different stages of goal setting:
Where do I want to go? What needs to be accomplished? (The Goal)
What are the results I need to achieve to get there? (Key Results)
What do I need to do to achieve those results? (Actions)
Once you’ve done this, you can start to help move your team in the direction of better work, and see the visible result of more check marks.