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Setting Team Goals
Teams perform better when they have clear shared goals. One key element of good team leadership is helping your team establish team goals. This module will provide several suggested approaches for establishing goals and a set of criteria for good team goals.
When to use
When a team has been formed, one of the first activities should be to create team goals. It is often helpful to periodically review those goals. With functional team, I suggest reviewing them twice a year or possibly every quarter. For project teams, it is helpful to review them at the start of every major project phase.
There are numerous methodologies and approaches to help you set your team’s goals. Dr Edwin Locke identified five key principles to follow when setting goals from his extensive research, the acronym SMART has become a best practice used by many teams when setting goals, and finally, I have my own checklist which I have developed. This represents the best practices that I have learned (sometimes the hard way) to apply when working with teams on goals. Although goal setting is normally done when a team is formed, it often needs to be periodically reviewed and refreshed for both new team members and because some old team members begin to drift in their focus
Locke’s Principles on Team Goal Setting
- Clarity – Use SMART approach.
- Challenge – Aggressive goals, but not unrealistic, can inspire a team.
- Commitment – Team involvement in goal creation leads to team buyin.
- Feedback – Status reporting and accountability strengthen the buyin.
- Task complexity – Avoid simplistic goals, allow for some complexity; but don’t go overboard so that they become confusing.
- Specific – clear and concise, not vague or ambiguous.
- Measurable – a measurable target so that the team knows when the goal is met.
- Achievable – challenging but realistic, if the goal is impossible, the team will think they have been set up to fail.
- Relevant – the goal aligns with organizational and personal goals.
- Time-bound – there is a time period associated with the goal. This creates a sense of urgency and focus.
Goal Setting Checklist
- Aligned with organizational goals.
- Understood by all team members.
- Accountability allocated for elements of the goal.
- Establish performance indicators and progress monitoring.
- Identify internal and external dependencies.
- Identify and manage risks.
- Ensure full team commitment to the goals.
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