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Team Goal Setting

Defining meaningful results

Team goal setting enables a team to clarify what constitutes meaningful results for them. The more team members are involved in agreeing what results they want to achieve the more committed they are likely to be to achieving them. Gaining ideas and commitment at an early stage pays in the longer term.

In our article Teamwork Theories – The Star Team Model we introduced a model to develop teams using individual strengths combined together with effective teamwork in the pursuit of meaningful goals. Here we discuss the results element of the model.

Teams come together as an effective unit much more quickly when they have a challenging and meaningful goal they are committed to achieving.

So it’s important to frame the team goal setting so that the results the team commits to are challenging, clear and are goals that the members value and recognize as important.

The advice that emerges from the research of Edwin Locke and others on goal setting theory is a helpful way to clarify how you might set goals.

Two of Locke’s observations are particularly interesting:

Firstly goals should be demanding. We are far more motivated by challenging goals than by moderate or mediocre goals. That is of course provided they are not set too high and seen as unachievable.

What can you do to establish Team Goal Setting?

Secondly, goals should be specific. General unclear goals are not motivational: clear specific goals are. It’s also worth considering that goals perhaps shouldn’t be so specific that they don’t allow flexibility to achieve things differently as the context and situation may change over time.

Team Goal Setting

Typically this involves a number of steps:

  • Set and establish the vision and purpose of the team.
  • Define a clear sense of identity and purpose
  • What are the meaningful results the team is trying to achieve?
  • Develop with the team clear guidelines on the performance required that will help to deliver meaningful results
  • Confirm the goals and intended results with others in the organization.
  • What are the tasks the team needs to do to achieve meaningful results?
  • Who should do the tasks?

Involve your team in adding the detail to these steps. The more they’re involved; the greater their sense of ownership and commitment will be.

Meaningful Results

Finally in the context of team goal setting we have stressed the importance of meaningful results. The emphasis on “meaningful” emerges from an understanding of happiness: that people tend to be happier when they are using their strengths to engage in activities.

This is especially so when those activities are considered significant and meaningful: when they are of value and worth doing. We have talked more about applying happiness to workplace performance in our articles what causes happiness and finding ways to be happy at work.

If you do have the time to read more on this topic, why not go to our teamwork articles. A good place to start might be to think through why is teamwork important, or you may want to think about how you define teamwork or reminding yourself of the benefits of teamwork.

This is one of ten articles in our teamwork series. But for some practical tips on team goal setting, look at our great-value guides (below), or at our Team Building Exercises for all team stages teams…

Team Building Exercises and Team Stages

The exercises in this guide are grouped according to our team stages model. Remember, each team is unique and needs to be led through several developmental stages. These include:

Creating a new team or taking over an existing team

Exercises for all team stages!

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  • Exercise 1: Being a TEAM together
  • Exercise 2: True or false
  • Exercise 3: Who does what in a team?
  • Exercise 4: Getting the mix right
  • Exercise 5: Doing something for the first time
  • Exercise 6: Two years from now

Developing a team

  • Exercise 7: A clearer vision
  • Exercise 8: Mad, sad or glad
  • Exercise 9: Seeing the bigger picture
  • Exercise 10: Positive feedback
  • Exercise 11: Conflicting views

Performing and achieving results with a team

  • Exercise 12: Did you notice?
  • Exercise 13: Limiting beliefs

Sustaining team performance

  • Exercise 14: Scarce resources
  • Exercise 15: Keeping going

Where to go from here:


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