To harness the power of teams, HBR has found that there are a “relatively small number of factors that have an outsized impact on their success.” One of these factors is creating team goals. Research from Josh Bersin now shows that the highest-performing companies reward people for team goals, not just individual goals.
Benefits of setting team goals
Team goals can help employees and the organization increase productivity and alignment. The best team goals increase:
Transparency: Team goals ensure that everyone on the team is aligned toward the same objectives when working on common projects. They also provide greater context into how each person’s work ties to the broader team objectives. With the nature of today’s remote teams, context and transparency are crucial.
Engagement: When you set team goals, it gives each individual a sense of purpose and something to strive for. As HBR states, “The foundation of every great team is a direction that energizes, orients, and engages its members. Teams cannot be inspired if they don’t know what they’re working toward and don’t have explicit goals.”
Collaboration: When an employee understands how their tasks align with others’ work, it encourages collaboration. Your people will be more likely to support their colleagues with issues and work collaboratively instead of competitively.
Empowerment: One way to motivate teams toward a shared goal is to involve them in the goal-setting process, both for team and individual goals. The more employees are engaged in setting goals, the more committed to those goals they are likely to be.
How team goals impact performance
Once the team goals are set, they should not be set aside until the end of the year. Instead, they should be part of a continuous performance management process. The team and leadership should revisit and adjust the goals as needed, on an ongoing basis. The process should focus on giving feedback to the team and coaching them on how to succeed. The feedback and coaching are not just for managers; they can come from many sources throughout the organization, such as colleagues, team members, or other leaders.
Here are a few questions that should be asked in team goal-review sessions to facilitate coaching and feedback:
- How are we progressing?
- Are we on track to hit our next milestone?
- What wins have we had?
- What challenges or blockers are appearing?
- Are our actions and approach still appropriate, or is course correction needed?
- Is this goal still aligned with the broader strategy, or do we need to pivot?
- How should we be prioritizing given any new information we have?
Recognition for hitting team goals shouldn’t be reserved until the goal is reached. Smaller milestones should be recognized. Behaviors like effort, persistence, and problem solving should be rewarded to drive motivation, confidence, and commitment. Recognizing the work teams have accomplished keeps employees feeling appreciated and highlights the importance of shared accomplishments.
About the AuthorMore Content by Lynne Levy