How to Set and Achieve Team Goals in the Workplace
You have arrived at work and have been handed a new project to focus on. A few of your colleagues have been handed the same assignment.
Your first meeting is in the afternoon, and as a new team, you must begin to map out how you are going to achieve a good result for the project.
Setting out team goals in the workplace is imperative for success. Without following specific goals, it may feel like you are working twice as hard with little direction.
Having clear, concise goals ensures that everyone in a team knows what they need to focus on and will remain motivated.
Goals can help a project align with a company’s overall values. This is important as it determines the direction of the work. A lack of values in your team goals may mean the results are not reflective of what a company wants.
In this article, we will discuss how you can set team goals and achieve them together. We will also highlight what to avoid whilst you are working in a team.
While this article specifically addresses conditions you may face at work, the principles can be applied elsewhere, whether in sport or life in general.
When we are given a deadline or a big task to work on, it can often be daunting to think about how we are to reach the final stage of delivery.
This is natural, and when you are working in a team, this feeling can be exacerbated, particularly if you are working with anxious individuals.
Setting team goals will help avoid unnecessary worries. They will also keep everybody on task, eventually getting you to your product.
What is also important is how realistic the goals are. Setting team goals that require extra effort from every member of a team is unlikely to result in success.
Here are three key ways to set clear, achievable team goals:
How you work as a team can determine what results you will achieve.
When you are working as an individual, it can be easier to set yourself tasks and follow a structure. Such working practices as the Pomodoro Technique can be used to manage your workload.
However, when you are working as a team, it is more difficult to choose one method for everybody’s working style.
Instead, it may be better to use a simple framework that is understood by all team members.
One popular method to set goals is by using the SMART approach. This framework not only breaks down a goal into various components, but it is easy to discuss amongst your colleagues.
The acronym has five parts and each singular area can be addressed separately to help you set an achievable goal.
- S for Specific – Ask how tailored your goal is towards one area. If it is too vague or general, it is harder to achieve.
- M for Measurable – Ask if you can measure the goal by word count, time or another way. If a goal is difficult to measure, it is hard for team members to understand how much work they must do and when they have achieved it.
- A for Achievable – If the goal requires too much work, there is no chance that you will reach it. Make sure that you can achieve the goal.
- R for Realistic – Some practitioners prefer the ‘R’ to stand for ‘Relevant’. Either way, this is about making sure the goal aligns with the company values and the context of the project.
- T for Time – Finally, work out how much time you have to achieve the goal and plan the work accordingly.
Once you have adopted a framework, you must analyze the goal against your team members’ skills and strengths.
Ensuring that you set everyone the right tasks will lead to better results. Moreover, it helps to avoid misdirection and confusion.
There will inevitably be questions and sometimes even disagreements. Having set roles will help mitigate unnecessary problems.
If serious disputes arise between teammates, there are many leadership styles that you can use to address this.
Whatever style you feel will best suit your own personality and your team’s overall working ethos, ensure that you stick with it. Chopping and changing your goals and styles will only lead to miscommunication. Clarity and consistency are key to setting and achieving goals.
When you are coming towards the end of a specific goal – not the project, as goals are stepping stones to the final results – you and your team must review the process.
If you can identify things that are working well and eliminate any issues, setting goals will become considerably easier.
Roles may also need to change, and the goal review process is a great time to do this.
What is also important is how you give praise. There is nothing more disheartening than unrecognized efforts.
With each goal attained, and the effort put forward to get to that goal, there should be an equal amount of praise.
Whether you incentivize praise through intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, it will help goals to be attained. People are much more likely to put work in and stay on task if they are aware that they will be rewarded in some way for their efforts.
Setting goals is relatively simple once you have the framework in place. Achieving them is often a different matter.
To achieve goals both as individuals and as a team, you need to observe the working patterns of the group. Once this has been done, it is possible to change things to get the results you desire.
Here are the main focus points to achieve the goals you have set amongst your team.
No matter what you are working on or who you are working with, you need to maintain your efforts to the very end of the task.
We often begin a task full of motivation and inspiration. This is great for momentum at the start of a project, but it rarely lasts.
There will be times when you and your team become tired and frustrated with a task. Rather than be discouraged, try to figure out how you can all work around it.
Setting time limits, restricting the number of breaks the team takes, and even removing distractions from the working space is a good start.
However, even with a white wall and an empty desk, we will still find ways to procrastinate. Accepting this inevitability will help your team recognize it and be honest about its effects on the working process.
Analyze carefully how your team members procrastinate and how they avoid workloads. It is not worth punishing team members about this, as it will only dampen their spirits further.
Rather, offer support and compromises. If you recognize a lapse in effort, negotiate with a colleague about taking a break once they have reached a certain word or time limit.
Further, it is also good to instill an environment where work is respected. Having a noisy, careless atmosphere makes concentrating much harder.
You will all hit walls whilst working, and this is fine. Understand that it is worth persevering to the end of the workload and reward this effort accordingly.
At each checkpoint and achievement of a goal, reviews should be carried out by the team to understand how the project is looking.
There may not need to be a change in direction, but it is good to check in and get an idea of how everyone feels about the progress being made.
Integrating review stages into a project also helps you shuffle around anyone who you believe would work better on another task.
It is important not to include too many reviews. There is only so much delegation and updates that you can do. Having numerous review processes will detract from the work.
Set out in the plan how many times you intend to review the process. If you have been given a timeframe of eight weeks to complete a project, then it may be worth including a review every two weeks.
The leadership style of the person heading up the team will determine how your team works and the relationship that the leader has with them.
Some leaders prefer to be reserved with their opinions, while others are more hands-on with the work and with their colleagues. If you are the team leader, whatever your leadership style is, stick with it throughout the project.
Changing how you work and operate will only create rifts within the team. Imagine having a manager who is incredibly motivational one week and then completely absent the next. You will not know how to approach them from one day to the next.
Understand what leadership style works with your personality. More introverted types tend to be more cooperative and reserved, whilst extroverted types may prefer a more inspirational style.
A leader is needed to achieve goals. How this leader looks is in your hands.
With all team projects, communication is key to success. Failing to listen and discuss decisions properly will lead to confusion and a lack of direction.
To communicate well with your team, ensure that you have systems in place so that they feel heard. Simple things like a notice board, a group email system and team meetings all work.
If the project team is large, it is also worthwhile setting up internal group projects within the overall team. Having groups dedicated to tasks will help to streamline communication.
There is a fine balance to communication. If it is too frequent, it will shorten the time available to work on tasks.
On the other hand, being vague and absent will lead to team members feeling lost. When giving advice or direction, keep it simple and focused on the work.
Even with the most organized plan, some elements exist outside of our control.
A team member may take sick leave, there could be a system crash, and there could even be a change directed from above your station.
Whatever the circumstances, don’t let these uncontrollable elements dictate the work. Try your best to improvise in difficult situations and be prepared to make decisions to alleviate the problems.
Being confident and reactionary will also rub off on your team members, and they will take the initiative too if things go wrong for them.
Adapting in the workplace is a particular skill that usually requires prior experience. To learn how to adapt, try being more instinctive when difficulties arise.
Remain positive and confident in the working process, and be determined to get the results you want.
Setting and achieving goals with a team in the workplace is often a difficult task as you may have to manage a whole range of personalities.
However, with a good plan using frameworks like SMART, you can achieve great results. Understanding how to delegate work and measure praise will also win you support from your team.
A team project is reliant upon your initiative, and the sooner you construct a plan, the sooner you can start working toward the results you want to achieve.