Organizations demonstrating high performance are often good at adapting to the increasing pace of innovation and widescale change. Companies have started moving away from focusing solely on the efficiency of individuals toward a focus on organizational agility and shared team goals.
According to venture capitalist and business author, John Doerr, there’s a new way of organizations and teams that are powerful. Both teams and organizations are deeply transparent—and as a consequence, very open and collaborative. Instead of being hierarchical and top-down, they’re networked in rich relationships with others that are trying to get their work done. So, whenever you enhance those values, you’ll have a higher-performance organization.
One of the most powerful ways to enhance performance and drive team success is to align team goals. In fact, Culture Amp data reveals that employees who see how their efforts fit into the larger company picture are 2.9 times more engaged.
Let’s look at the factors that drive the success of goals and some tips you can use to optimize your goal-setting process.
Key Factors That Influence Team Goal AchievementIt’s important for managers and leaders to understand that the following factors play a large role in whether a team will achieve its goals.
- Commitment. Challenging goals produces the best results, yet they require a high level of focus and effort. It’s critical to get buy-in around shared and individual goals from your team members. When key contributors are included in the goal-setting process, they are automatically more committed to hitting their targets.
- Frequency. Writing clear, effective goals takes practice. Collaborating in that process helps drive the quality of goals. The more frequently individuals and teams review their goals, the better they get at creating them. Some companies set quarterly goals and evaluate progress every two weeks. Other organizations set six-month or annual goals with a monthly or quarterly evaluation cycle.
- Feedback. Feedback is closely related to the frequency of setting and reviewing goals. Individuals and teams need feedback on progress and action strategy (for instance, how they’re working to achieve their goals). Feedback from leaders and colleagues is an opportunity for recognition and, when necessary, course correction. If a team doesn’t understand how well they’re tracking towards their goals, it’s impossible to make adjustments that could help accomplish the goal.
Satisfaction and Goal DifficultyPeople rarely derive satisfaction from achieving something that is easy. Elevating the difficulty of attaining a goal (within reason) improves performance and drives greater satisfaction when the team succeeds.
Recognition and RewardsRecognition and rewards act as motivators for sustaining effort and focus when things get challenging. Goals and key milestones act as tangible reflection points for recognition and, when appropriate, rewards.
Rewards don’t always have to be monetary in nature; they can include incentives like team-level recognition, time off, celebratory offsites, fun team-building opportunities, or something that the team chooses.
Five Ways to Drive Commitment to Team GoalsCommitment lies at the heart of any goal-setting process. Without commitment, a focus on the other factors is futile. In this section, we’ll explore how leaders can elevate their teams’ commitment to goal outcomes. Consider these science-based tips:
1. Alignment and importance. Leaders should not only set a good example by sharing their own goals, but also set an inspiring vision and communicate the importance of each team’s goals in helping achieve that vision. Aligning team goals to company-wide goals is critical to demonstrate how each team’s efforts contribute to the organization’s success. Teams with goals that are not organizationally aligned often lose their sense of purpose over time. Likewise, when individuals’ goals are aligned with their group’s goals, team performance improves.
2. Transparency and visibility of goals. Sharing goals publicly enhances commitment by establishing a social contract and making action and follow-through a matter of integrity. Leaders should ensure that their team’s goals are visible and have been communicated to relevant parts of the organization.
3. Participation in setting goals. Employees who are involved in the goal-setting process set higher goals and have higher performance than those whose goals were assigned by their manager. In fact, much of the performance improvement actually comes from the cognitive impact of the information exchange that happens while collaboratively establishing goals. Collaborative goal development not only results in greater clarity around expectations, but also facilitates more effective strategies on how to achieve them.
4. Ownership and accountability. Each team must take full accountability for their goals, yet it’s still critical that each goal has a single individual owner to guide the process and help keep the team on track.
5. Document the goals. It may sound old-fashioned, but there’s research to prove it: detailing your goals in writing or in some reviewable, visible way increases commitment to achieving goals.
Goals create critical alignment across the organization, giving teams the autonomy and confidence to strategically drive key initiatives forward. Adopting a more agile approach to goal setting empowers teams and individuals to move quickly and with confidence.