Setting Team Goals & Objectives

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  • 0:00 Why Goals Matter
  • 1:17 Making Goal Setting a…
  • 2:58 Setting SMART…
  • 7:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sherri Hartzell

Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

The goal-setting process can be more effective when team members are involved and SMART goals are used. This lesson will explain these factors and offer some tips on how to successfully approach the goal-setting process.

Why Goals Matter in Organizations & Teams

As a leader within an organization, you have probably spent some time working on and toward organizational objectives and goals. In fact, this process falls within the planning function of management whereby a manager develops objectives, goals, and action plans aimed at a larger organizational goal. In contemporary organizations, many leaders, possibly even yourself, use teams to carry out these action plans so that they can meet their set objectives and goals in a timely manner.

It should come as no surprise then that one of the most important factors of team success is understanding what those goals are. Goals can be big or small and are statements that detail what an organization is trying to accomplish. Objectives are precise actions that work towards the completion of a goal. Clearly defined objectives and goals provide a sense of purpose within the team and communicate to members how their work will contribute to the overall organization and its goals. A team without clearly defined objectives and goals will make little progress and often fail to complete a project as it was originally intended. However, the team that is fully aware of its goals has clearly defined expectations and tends to be higher performing and more effective at accomplishing its mission.

Making Goal Setting a Partnership

While it is up to the team leaders to initiate the process of goal setting, they should also share the responsibility with their teams. Of course, there are many instances where goal setting is a one-man show, but these projects are often less successful than ones where the team members are directly involved in the process. The reason for this is simple: buy-in or gaining your team's interest and commitment to a project.

Team members want to feel that their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives matter. They want to feel vested and have a sense of ownership over the project. When team members are involved in the process, they tend to be more passionate about achieving project goals, and we all know the power of a motivated employee.

Here are some ways you can involve your team members within the goal-setting process:

  • Probe team members for potential solutions to the problem.
  • Ask team members to share past experiences of when they participated in successful teams to offer best practices.
  • Find out what skills and knowledge areas your team members want to develop and create stretch goals based on them. Stretch goals may seem unattainable at first, but are meant to challenge team members to be innovative in their thought process and decision-making.
  • Find out what motivates your team members and align rewards based on their preferences.
  • Ask team members to choose which parts of the project they would like to work on.
  • Form partnerships within the team when assigning tasks based on team member requests.
  • Request feedback on final goals to determine if team members believe them to be realistic and attainable.
  • Communicate openly throughout the goal-setting process with team members to ensure they understand what is expected of them.

Setting Smart Team Objectives and Goals

One of the most widely recognized methods of goal setting is to use SMART goals. SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each step within the SMART process is used to help leaders and their teams write focused goals across a wide array of industries. Let's take a look at how the SMART goals process is applied by Maria and her customer service team.

In recent months, Maria has found that customer service satisfaction levels have dropped significantly. According to a recent survey, many existing customers are considering switching to a competitor because of poor customer service and lengthy wait times that her customers are experiencing when calling customer service. Maria knows that she has to do something fast or risks losing customers. After spending some time discussing the issues with her team, Maria has decided to use SMART goals to tackle the issue. Here is an explanation of each area of the SMART formula and a description of how Maria applied each of these steps to her situation:

1. Set Specific Goals

Remember one of the most important factors in determining a team's success is understanding its goals. Specific, clear, and well-defined goals are necessary to set expectations and provide direction. A specific goal for Maria's customer service team is to decrease customer wait times by 5 minutes by the end of the quarter. This goal is specific in that it details what the group needs to do (decrease wait times), by how much (5 minutes), and by when (the end of the quarter).

2. Set Measurable Goals

Without some form of measurement, a goal is just a goal. In order to know whether or not a goal was actually achieved, you must have some sort of measurement tool in place. Measuring wait times will be simple enough for Maria and her team. They simply need to track and assess how much time a customer is being left on hold to determine if, on average, the wait time has decreased by 5 minutes or more.

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