Setting Goals as a Team

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Your organization might be surviving without intentionally setting goals, but it’s probably doing just that – surviving. If you feel like you’re treading in place instead of moving forward, you probably are!

Objectives can’t be met unless they are set; that’s a no-brainer. Having goals in writing is the first step, as a study from Dominican University of California proves. Of the individuals who wrote down their goals, committed to take action, shared commitments with a friend, and sent weekly progress reports to that friend, 76% accomplished at least half if not all of their goals.

While that will increase individual success in the pursuit of goals, there is also a surplus of data supporting the case for intentionally setting goals and plans of action within workplace teams. A Gallup study showed that employees who are included in goal setting with their manager are 2.3x more likely to say their performance goals are realistic. Creating buy-in with your employees will drastically increase employee engagement and productivity. If you find yourself struggling to effectively set goals as a team, here are some tips:

Set SMART goals

You can set all the lofty goals you want, but if you have no plan or way to realistically achieve them, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Ensure the goals are specific, clearly defining the goal and detailing the why and who behind the goal. Instead of stating you want to increase revenue, say you want to increase revenue by 20% or whatever percentage you see fit. Goals must be measurable to provide clarity and an end goal. Sure, it’s fun to dream big, but keep it within reach. Achievable goals will keep employees from overwhelm and burnout, increasing buy-in. Lastly, set goals that are relevant, aligning with your overarching goals, values, and strategies. Set a timeline for your goal that can act as a visible finish line.

Encourage and prioritize collaborative behavior

Unfortunately, goal setting can occasionally bring out the worst in people. Competitive behaviors are brought to light and tensions can rise. You, as a leader, can mitigate these effects by treating everybody with respect and ensuring each employee has a voice. Exhibit a collaborative attitude so others can easily follow.


Setting big goals is necessary if you want to reach new heights, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set smaller goals within. Highlight smaller milestones so your team has something to celebrate along the way. For example, when your team reaches 25% of a goal you could have lunch delivered to the office for a small celebration. This will keep moods light and keep employees engaged as they keep pushing. What you don’t want is employees to become drained, disengaged, and burned out. If that happens, productivity will drop substantially, and you may never reach your bigger goals. You can afford to spend a little time and money to celebrate if it means greater success in the end.

Periodically evaluate progress

Along with setting mini goals, you will want to monitor progress, periodically evaluating whether the plan is fully effective. If COVID has taught us one thing, it’s how to pivot on the spot while continuing forward movement. The plan to reach your goals can shift if you maintain transparency and make sure your team is on board with changes. Worst case scenario is that the big goals need to be adjusted, and that’s OKAY. If that’s the case, you will adjust the goal, adjust the plan, and then resume forward movement toward the newly set goal.

Use failure as a learning tool

Failure happens, we all know this… It’s impossible to avoid. What you do with failure is up to you. If you or your team happen to experience a setback while working toward a goal, follow up with intentionality and grow from the failure. Reflect on what caused the failure, and figure out whether it was an internal or external root. Figure out what you can do better next time and get back on track toward reaching your big goals!

As a leader, you can lead your team and organization to a higher level of productivity and success. You can also lead your team and organization to lower levels of productivity, dissatisfaction, and burnout. Lead with the best intentions in mind and you’ll avoid the latter situation.



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