This is part 10 of a 12-part series.
Successfully leading a team can be one of the most rewarding aspects of a professional’s career. However, addressing a diverse group effectively can be difficult for new leaders. From open communication and recognition to delegation and empowerment to self-awareness and empathy, there are a plethora of leadership arrows professionals must carry in their quivers to be successful. So during this yearlong series, we will examine 12 areas of focus and reveal practical tips to help new leaders in some of the most important aspects of leadership. Tenth up: goal setting.
Creating and achieving successful goals is one of the most foundational aspects of a leader. And developing goals for your team is just as crucial. Author Bill Copeland once said, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” And when managing a team, keeping score helps you know where you are in the game. That’s why when developing goals for your team, it’s important to utilize the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting format. The acronym stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
One of the most important aspects of a goal is how detailed it is. Avoid using vague language and get to the heart of what you want to accomplish. If possible, outline the goal by answering the “who, what, when, where, and how” questions. According to a study by Arvey, Dewhirst, and Boling, goal clarity has a direct influence on overall motivation in the workplace, so be clear and concise with how you write the goal.
An effective goal should be measurable, so create goals that you can track not only the progress of, but also the completion. The Gail Matthews’ Goal Research Summary found that individuals who set actionable tasks and initiate weekly progress reporting are 40% more likely to achieve their goals. Also, be clear on what metrics your team will use when measuring goals. Be simple and cohesive.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but ask yourself if the goal is actually attainable. Can your team achieve a specific quota or reach a certain gross margin? Lofty goals are important, but if they are impossible to reach, then the failure to reach them can be extremely damaging to team morale. Create goals that not only push your team to work hard but that are also within reach.
To fully unlock the potential of your team, it’s important to build camaraderie over a singular focus. The relevance of your goal should not only align with your organization’s values, but also be meaningful to the team. Lock and Latham found that 90% of people perform better with relevant and challenging goals. When creating a goal be sure to include the “why” to help communicate the goal’s relevance to your team and organization.
The goal should be contained with specific dates to not only establish a finish line, but also to provide your team guidelines to help track your progress. There’s nothing more demoralizing than working toward something that doesn’t have an end date. It is important for your team be able to work toward and see a finish line to build motivation and engagement around the project.
Pro Tip: If you create a team goal, help your employees develop personal goals that feed into the overall team goal. This is a great way to ensure everyone is working toward a singular vision.
What are some important goal setting tips you’ve learned during your career? How has a focus on goals helped you lead a successful team? Let us know in the comments section below!