At the start of each quarter, managers are likely thinking about how to set goals for their teams and organizations.
Setting clear and achievable goals is crucial for the success of any business, as it helps to align the efforts of employees and ensure that everyone is working towards a common purpose. However, setting goals can often be a daunting task, particularly for managers who are new to the role or who have not had much experience in this area—even seasoned managers can struggle with setting effective goals for their teams at times.
We want to help you start your quarter right by giving you brief tips on how a manager like you can set effective goals for this year; they’re basic, simple, and easy to follow steps anyone can implement. So if you’re just learning how to set proper goals for your team, then this can be a good place to start. And if you’re the top gun of your company, consider this a refreshing reminder.
#1: Start by defining your overall business strategy.
Before you start setting goals for your team, it is essential to have a clear understanding of your organization’s overall strategy and objectives. All too often managers think since the organization’s goals are common knowledge to them surely their teams are just as aware of them as they are?
Let’s put it this way: setting a friendly reminder to your team about the business’s objectives and ultimate strategy to achieve those objectives. Gathering your team and reemphasizing the business’s strategy and overarching goals will not only help to ensure that your team’s goals are aligned with the broader business objectives, but it also ensures that your team is working towards a common goal.
Make sure you and your team are on the same page!
#2: Set SMART goals.
You’ve probably heard of these before: SMART. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These criteria help to ensure that your goals are clear and actionable, and that they can be easily tracked and measured. Setting goals might sound like a simple process of getting a pen and pencil, or gathering your team and brainstorming goals together on a whiteboard, but it’s far more nuanced than that—your goals are meaningless if they don’t complement the key objectives of the organization and the outcomes it aims to achieve.
With that said, when setting your goals, make sure that they meet each of these criteria, and that you have a clear plan for how you will measure progress towards achieving them.
#3: Involve your team in the goal-setting process.
Notice how all throughout this article, we never once suggested that you close your office door, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb,” cancel your meetings for the day, and dedicate the entire day towards setting your goals—you’re not running your business on your own. If you don’t involve your team in this important process, then you’re neglecting your one true, and most powerful asset.
As Patrick Lencioni, a business management expert, once put it, “Not finance, not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and rare.” And there’s a reason why it’s so rare, because it’s not easy to get to a point where everyone on your team understands the clear goals and objectives of their business.
When you’re setting goals for your team, you’re ensuring that your goals are aligned with their individual strengths and abilities, and most importantly, that they feel invested in the outcome. Additionally, involving your team in the goal-setting process can also help build morale and foster a sense of ownership and accountability amongst them.
#4: Prioritize your goals
When setting goals, it’s important to prioritize them based on their importance to the organization. We sometimes get too caught up on the tactics and not focus enough on the strategy, and while focusing on tactics and smaller-scale tasks is also important, those daily tasks can be much easier to manage once you have your and your teams’ goals set in place. That way, you’ll be able to allocate your resources effectively, while also focusing on the most critical objectives.
Setting both short-term and long-term goals can help you sort out your priorities in a more detailed and comprehensive manner, and also, both of these types of goals have different, positive impacts on performance as well; short-term goals can help to keep your team motivated and engaged, while long-term goals will help to ensure that you are making progress towards your overall business objectives.
#5: Be realistic and flexible
We like to believe that business growth is a uniform process where progress slowly, and gradually goes up, up, and up. But of course, anyone who’s in business understands that this isn’t the true reality of running a company; you’ll have to recognize that there may be obstacles that need to be overcome along the way. So a goal-setting can very well be mental preparation for the difficult journey towards getting to those goals. With that being said, it’s important to be flexible, and to be prepared to make adjustments to your goals if necessary. That way you’ll be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances as you go.