Setting goals does more than just communicate things that need to be done. Goals keep professionals organized and motivated and keep teams working cohesively. One of the best things a business leader can do to maximize productivity is to set goals for their teams.
The clearer and more actionable the goal, the more motivating it will be. When a goal is easy to understand, each team member can visualize the steps they need to take to reach it. Here, 14 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss the steps that business leaders can take to help their teams set clear and actionable goals.
Action-plan during every meeting.
Make action planning part of every team meeting. At the end of our meetings, we take a few minutes to ensure that we all understand what the next steps will be, who’s in charge of what and if there are additional questions to be answered or items to be achieved before we meet again. We also make sure that everyone knows who the point person is for questions should they arise. – Liz Wooten-Reschke, Connect For More
Identify end goals and work backward.
Work your way backward by identifying the end goals you’d like your teams to achieve. Then work out the action items you believe it will take to accomplish those goals. You may come to realize it will take longer than expected or it may be more difficult to obtain based on resources as smaller goals must be met in order to obtain the larger goals. This will help you roadmap a plan to success. – Messina Truttman, Beck Flavors
Create yearly goals with a partner.
Start at the top. With our director teams, we have each of them create a personal and professional goal for the year. Each leader meets with their president once a month as a pulse check to see where they are at with their goals, review what is needed to meet the goal and strategize how they can get there. Each of those individuals also has an accountability partner to keep them on track. –Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
Explain the strategy and vision.
Help explain the strategy and vision, especially the “why” or “whys” behind them, so that your teams can understand the thinking. Share how it impacts their own personal goals by giving some tangible examples and providing considerations or points of reflection for what they think should be taken into account when setting their own goals. – Amy Marshall, Slalom
Evolve SMART goals.
Make SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) SMART-R goals by adding “resource constrictions.” When goal setting, discuss and document the resource availability conditions under which the goal commitment occurred. Also, pre-emptively discuss how the goal will be altered if the resource is then partially constricted or fully removed. It’s better to address the discomfort up front. – Kim Baker, Vivid Performance Group
Reward or face a consequence.
Goals have to be measured and then either rewarded or require a consequence. At Lowden Street, we celebrate when we meet our goals by having parties and studying our actions. If we miss our goals, we still discuss our plan to understand where we missed and set new goals. – Matt Bean, Lowden Street Capital
Ask for the team’s input on goals.
Asking for your team’s input on setting these goals is absolutely paramount. Make sure there are real metrics and a plan in place to make these goals a reality. Let them know what support they will have and what compensation they will receive for going above and beyond. Invest in your people and they will invest in you and your vision. – Jennifer Wehner, The Wehner Group
Allow team autonomy to set goals.
Allow your team autonomy to set their own audacious goals. Empowerment is an authentic way for leaders to lead by example and let team members be in charge of their own destinies. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
Set yearly, quarterly, weekly goals.
First, once set one-, three-, and 10-year goals are in place, then the quarterly rocks like strategic initiatives and weekly scorecard metrics (weekly activities that bring monthly results) are much easier to set. Every year, reset the one- and three-year goals to keep the process fresh, relevant and on point towards the 10-year target. – Chris Hallberg, EOS Worldwide
Instill confidence in your teams’ abilities.
As the leader, I not only need to cast a vision but instill confidence in our teams’ ability to achieve the desired goals. Remind them of past victories. After collectively determining what the goals are, getting their buy-in by publicly acknowledging their commitment to hitting them is an important piece to achieving them. – Amber Duncan, Jackie
Be clear about organizational goals.
Be clear and actionable with the goals of the organization. The clearer leaders are with their organizational goals, the better employees can draw the line between their tasks and activities and those of the business. This can help people understand their personal impact on the organization. – Jack Smith, Fortuna Business Management Consulting
Ask the team to set actions and metrics.
Be clear on your business vision, then ask the team to identify actions that will help your organization achieve that vision and simple metrics to track progress. The actions should have an obvious connection to the ultimate vision. Share progress against those metrics via a dashboard at least once a month. Discuss how and why progress is or is not being made and adjust as necessary. – Rebecca Thorburn, Visible Impact
Review progress regularly.
Write your goals down, review them as a team and keep them front and center. Make sure everyone is directionally on board and review your progress on whatever cadence makes sense for your business. We review progress both monthly and quarterly. Make sure there are only three to five big goals, as anything more is noise. What gets written down gets done. If you have a goal that isn’t written down, it’s a dream. – Matt Rosen, Allata
Know your expectations as a leader.
The key to setting actionable goals is knowing your expectations. Before goal setting with team members, leadership should communicate their own goals and expectations for the team. This will help ensure team members are setting goals that work toward larger business initiatives. Knowing their expectations can also help team members identify challenging but attainable measurements of success. – Lauren Reed, Reed Public Relations