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Effective Goal Setting: Aligning Team Objectives for Achievement

Nov 03, 2023

Every organization should understand the importance of setting and understanding their goals, however, only 50% of top-level managers can name their company's top three goals. This is even after being given up to five attempts to recall them. With such a great emphasis on the outcome of a business, it's a wonder why this number is so high. For many businesses, goal setting is a large factor in the success or failure of the organization.

In this post, we'll discuss the importance of goals and aligning team objectives, the attributes of effective goals, and how to set and track goals effectively as a team.

Effective Goal Setting: Aligning Team Objectives for Achievement

The Importance of Aligning Team Objectives

As was stated, setting goals is important to the success of an organization. Goals give us something to shoot for, a direction to set the map to. It's infinitely harder to set goals as a team, because instead of one persons' goals, you're dealing with several people all at once. It can be so complicated that you'll want to let them go in their own direction and decide for themselves what to do and how to get there. That will only lead to disaster. Instead, if you align your team objectives and create shared goals, you'll feed into the desire to have one person's success become the team's success. Aligning team objectives will help in these areas.
  • Understanding of Long-Term Strategy- Creating a shared goal will help the team understand the ultimate goal of the company. By creating goals together, you're developing a strategy with them that will help with the understanding of the big picture strategy of the company.
  • Connect Strategic Goals to Specific Tasks- Breaking down the larger goal into smaller, more specific tasks enables you to give the tasks to the individual that the task is most appropriate for, making them the directly responsible individual (DRI). This frees up the time of other team members to get done what they're responsible for instead of piling it all onto one person's plate.
  • Understanding the Directly Responsible Individual- Speaking of the directly responsible individual, if you're not capitalizing on each person's unique skillset and availability of talents then you may not get the most out of their position within your team. Breaking down goals to fit the person will help develop a strategy that enables you to fit tasks to team members.
  • Obtain Authorization from Leaders- Having a clear set of goals and an action plan to reach those goals helps create appealing propositions that will grant you authorization from overseers of the operation. Showing them your preparation and alignment as a team will get you one step closer to a yes.
  • Communicate Goals on Every Level- By breaking down goals from the highest part of your organization to the lowest individual will help create a clear understanding of the goals on each level of the ladder. This ensures that each person is able to complete the job in the most satisfactory way and create a direct line of accountability for their own job.
  • Connects the Individual's Goals to the Broader Goals of the Business- Think of the team dynamic as the connector piece between an individual and the organization as a whole. Sometimes it's difficult to comprehend the overall goals of the business in terms that can easily be broken down into tasks. However, the team leader creates a funnel piece that those broader goals are pushed through, making it easier to digest.
  • Accountability to Each Other Empowers You to Act- Accountability plays a huge part in the success of an individual. Writing goals down and telling others about them creates this sort of pressure for the person to complete tasks that ultimately get them to where they want to be. Being accountable to others who are not only reaching for the same goals as you, but whose success also depends on you empowers them to act, even when it's difficult.

The Attributes of Effective Goals

It's not enough to have a goal. In fact, not every idea becomes a goal, even though it seems that way. We intuitively start to break down a goal into tasks as a way for us to reach them, but even still, the goal can be unfocused and, as a result, unobtainable. In order for a goal to be an effective one, it must be SMART.
  • Specific and focused- It's not enough to want something. Or to say you're going to do something. A quality of effective goal setting is how specific can you make the goal? Can you break the goal down into actionable tasks?
  • Measurable outcomes with a time frame- Do you have a deadline to complete the tasks by? Do you know to what degree you should have met the goal? It can be measured in monetary increments, by time, or its quantity outcome.
  • Achievable with your individual capabilities, or with the help of others- Goals are meant to stretch you and test your abilities. It should be difficult, a challenge. No matter how challenging, you should still be able to reasonably be able to complete the goal by yourself or with the help of your team. It should straddle the line of difficult, but doable.
  • Relevant to you based upon your needs and capabilities- How is the goal relevant to you? How does it relate to the organization? Context is crucial in setting and achieving goals. Why are you setting the goal you're setting? Does it relate to the overall business or team goal? If it's not, it's not effective.
  • Time based- Your goal needs a reasonable deadline. If there's no deadline, you won't have the desired drive necessary to complete the goal. Without one, there really is no goal. It's just a statement of desire, and that's not going to drive you towards your overall life, career, or organizational goals.
Example of a goal: I want to write a book this year.

Example of a SMART goal: I want to write a book on effective goal setting by the end of the year and will do so by outlining the concept and breaking down the chapters into individual sections to be written every night before bed.

While the first example is possible, there's nothing specific or measurable about it. This last example is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time based.

How to Set and Track Effective Team Goals

1. Determine that your goals align with the organization's goals. Look at the overall purpose of the organization, paying specific attention to what needs to be done to reach those goals. Think of the team's goals as broken down tasks of the organization. Each task can still be defined as a goal, especially where the team is concerned, but they are broken down to be more easily completed by the team.

2. Analyze your goals using the SMART system. Have you set SMART goals? SMART goals are not only a better way of creating goals. They also help organize the goal into categories and are more easily broken down into tasks that can be completed by the DRI. Check that your goals mark off each attribute of a SMART goal.

3. Determine the highest priority goals and assign them to responsible team members. Prioritization comes down to two things, a deadline, and its level of importance in the process of checking off tasks from your list. The highest priority goes first to the deadline, only to be passed by any tasks that that deadline is contingent upon. If the final task has a series of smaller tasks that lead up to it, then those smaller tasks take a higher priority.

4. List the team's goal with the individual's tasks somewhere like Notion, Google, Slack, or another communication calendar. Writing down goals and tasks helps to keep each team member on track for success by helping the DRI stay accountable to themselves, as well as the team. It also helps to see at what stage each task is at so anybody working on tasks that can only be completed at a specific part of the process can keep track of the progress.

5. Review overall team performance and provide regular feedback for improvement. Even goals that have not been met completely are an opportunity for further improvement. For instance, you can take a look at what parts of the process worked and what didn't. Even something like the length of time given to the goal period can provide valuable information. Maybe the team underestimated the time necessary for the given task? Maybe they overestimated the time and so felt unmotivated and were underachieving as a result.

In order to properly align team objectives with the individual and the organization, it's important to take a look at what makes an effective goal, and how to properly apply that goal setting strategy to a team setting. By setting SMART goals, writing them down, and finding an effective way to track them, you'll prove successful in creating a productive team that drives success.

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About the Author: Anna Taylor

Anna Taylor is a freelance writer and avid researcher- a jack of all trades, but a master of none. She graduated from the University of Hawai'i with an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts because she had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. She has since found her love of Extended Reality and the possibilities it brings to the world, as well as gardening, cooking, and writing. Anna lives in Interior Alaska with her family.

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