Setting goals is something companies and teams of all sizes need to do in order to achieve success. Goals help to clarify where teams are going and what they need to do to get there.
One of the first reasons to take goal setting seriously is that its benefits are supported by neuroscience. According to Granot, Stern, & Balcetis, 2017, goal setting gives a boost to our Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP), which gives us a push to act on that goal.
It is important that the goal is challenging but achievable. If it is an impossible goal and the subject doubts their ability to achieve it, the SBP is lower, decreasing the drive to reach the goal.
At the same time, if the goals seems too far away in the future, we are less likely to maintain the motivation to see it through. This supports the idea of setting SMART goals.
While we all set goals in our everyday lives, in an organisation, there will be goal setting at 3 levels: The Company goals, Team goals and Individual goals.
- Company goals are what everyone will be working towards. These will be backed by the overall strategy and might include anything from big picture objectives like reducing turnover to increasing profitability.
- Team goals are set by a group of individuals in order to help the company achieve its goals. Companies can see better results if the team members and leaders are given autonomy in creating their goals. Goals should be clear and challenging enough to drive success.
- Individual goals guide an employee in the execution of their work. They provide personal purpose and improve performance.
In this article, we shall focus on the second level and the benefits of team goal setting.
According to research, one of the benefits of team goal setting is that it drives the aspect of collaboration. By working together towards one goal, employees share skills, build comradeship and trust and this leads to success.
Collaborating by sharing personal goals with another person has been documented to help people achieve them more. The same works for team goals, partly because there is a sense of accountability. Team members cannot postpone tasks without telling someone. When they run into a road block, they are able to receive help from a team member instead of slacking off or giving up on it altogether.
Clarity and attention
On any given day, individuals are tasked with making choices. A over B, file this report or the other. With team goals set, you eliminate the need for teams to wonder what they should give their attention to on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
If you wish to have a team focus their collective efforts on achieving a particular objective, they need to have clear team goals. Studies show that when goals are clear, teams experience higher instances of success.
One of the benefits of team goal setting is that it helps to give people that extra push needed to get the work done. The team goals should have trackers as well. These will help people know exactly where they are going and know how far on the journey they have gotten.
Proper application of skills
If you consider the skills of your workforce as a highly prized resource, team goal setting ensures that you make the most of that resource. Allocating tasks to people who are under equipped or giving the over qualified non challenging tasks will become a thing of the past.
And because they are team goals, you can make use of a range of skills as opposed to relying on one individual. This not only works to push a project towards success, it motivates employees.
An increase in employee engagement is one of the more widely known benefits of team goal setting. Collective team goals give purpose to employees and allow them to feel like part of something greater than themselves. This can be taken a step further by inviting the team to be involved in the setting of these goals. It will ensure adherence and a greater sense of ownership.
It presents a chance to align with personal goals
Team goals, particularly those set with input from teams, provide a chance to align individual and team goals. Doing this allows managers and team leaders to support employees in getting the skills they need to achieve their own goals.
These skills will in turn support the team and then company goals. If this is done, employees will feel like the relationship they have with the company is a give-and-take and not just one where the employee gives. This can also be a great tool for engagement.
Aspects to keep in mind when setting team goals
How big or small your team is plays a role in the types of goals that you set. In some cases, the larger the team, the less the time it will take to complete a goal. This is because the goal can be broken down into several pieces. However, smaller teams also have their benefits. It is easy to provide oversight, there are no redundancies and collaboration is easier.
Strengths of the team members
It is a good idea to do an audit of the strengths of the various members of the team before setting team goals. The team members should be capable of executing the goals set. And if you find that there is a crucial skill lacking, either train your people or bring on a new team member who is proficient in that skill. This will give the team the best chance of succeeding.
The evolving needs of your organisation
In setting team goals, you need to take into account the needs of your organisation, both long and short term. It is important to remain flexible and adjust short term goals for the health of the organisation. For instance if you see a sharp drop in sales, you might need to alter team goals and deprioritise certain activities in order to tackle the more pressing issue.
Having no team goals is like leaving the business to run its self. Team goals guide the workforce in their endeavours. In order to enjoy the benefits of team goal setting, leaders need to start off with teams that are strong enough in both skill and composition. Remember to always define what success looks like for your teams and set in place mechanisms to measure it.