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Make Your Team a Success with a Goal Setting System

Photo by Afif Kusuma

Zig Ziglar once beautifully said that ​​a goal properly set is halfway reached. In his 40 years of touring the US, he inspired countless corporate groups to reach their full potential with bite-sized wisdom like that.

Let’s continue that legacy and focus on the power of goal setting for productivity. In this article, we’ll give you and your team fresh inspiration to develop a good goal setting system — for the first time, or again. We’ll lay out six big benefits of goal-oriented working, tools that help you set goals effectively, and some top tips to get the most out of it.

1. Goal Setting Triggers New Behaviors and Promotes New Skill Acquisition

Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So if you want to reach new and ambitious goals, chances are you’ll have to start doing something differently.

This all goes back to our brain. When we set goals, this engages the reticular activating system of our brains. That’s the part that gives us the attention and focus we need to identify what steps we need to take to reach said goal.

Using this part of your brain over and over again by setting smart goals, will train it to see those pathways and recognize which behaviors will help you reach your goals.

2. Goals Bring Your Team Focus

Ever walked into work knowing there’s enough to be done, but not knowing where to start? We’ve all been there. Even if there are to-do lists and targets, often people don’t recognize what really has priority.

That’s because goals and targets aren’t necessarily the same. A goal can be something much bigger, which requires a more advanced blueprint. A target, on the other hand, is often just hitting a certain number — one way or another. You go about it less deliberately, with less focus.

A goal rarely has only one key objective. It’s made up of a lot of moving parts that all have to fit in together. But first, you have to identify all of them.

That’s why we recommend using a system like OKR, which stands for objectives and key results, a goal setting system. You can get an idea of what it looks like in practice using Leapsome’s template for OKRs, but the idea is simple: you take your big goal and break it down into smaller, yet still ambitious objectives that you can measure. This makes it easier to reach your goal and find out how to get there, which will help you stay focused.

3. Measurable Goals Make It Easier to Improve and Learn New Things

“Where do you want to see yourself in five years?” is a vague question that still is being asked too much. It’s not specific, and it doesn’t trigger any sense of ambition. It’s daydreaming, at best.

Now, rephrase that just a tiny bit, and you might ask: “What would you like to be better at in one year?” Or “what skills would you like to master at the end of this year?” If you want to build a highly productive team, you have to leave some room for self-improvement, and if you want to help people to improve, let them work with goal setting.

In this particular case, it matters a lot how you set the goal. Because for improvement, it’s crucial that you make the goals SMART — because you want to be able to measure progress, and know when you want to reach it.

Think about it: how can you really tell if you’re becoming better at something if you don’t have a benchmark and some sort of scale to see your improvements? So, use a goal setting system deliberately to help you and your team improve not only productivity, but anything else you want to achieve.

4. Setting Challenging Goals Can Boost Performance

Research has clearly shown that over 90% of the time, setting specific and challenging goals leads to higher performance as compared to setting easy or generic goals. But what does a specific and challenging goal look like, and what’s too generic?

For instance, telling someone to “try harder” or “do their best,” showed to be least effective. It’s not specific enough.

It’s better to set SMART goals such as: “try being faster than your best time,” or “try staying under a 10% margin of error.” Looking for more examples of SMART goals? We’ve got you covered in this article.

5. Working with Goal Setting Can Save You Time

Time is of the essence when you want to be more productive. To get more of it, stop doing what doesn’t need to be done, and focus on — you guessed it — your goals.

When your team has a clear goal in place with a timeline in place, it will become much easier for them to prioritize what they work on, and work more efficiently.

When setting goals using an OKR, make sure that the deadlines you put for smaller objectives are ambitious — but realistic. You want to avoid people feeling pressured and the quality of the work will suffer, so look at a realistic timeline together. Goal reached? Reflect on what could’ve gone faster or what took up less time than planned, for better time management in the future.

6. Setting Goals Will Get People More Engaged with Their Work

Do you feel like your employees are coming into work without any excitement, motivation or inspiration? It could very well be possible that you’re dealing with disengaged employees.

Boosting engagement is a process that entails anything from employee wellbeing to simply finding the right fit, but goal setting can certainly help people be more engaged at their jobs. The reason is simple: when you set a goal, it becomes more clear what people are actually contributing to when they get to work. Without a clear objective, people often feel like they’re just keeping themselves busy.

We recommend setting both goals for teams and individuals, to get the most out of this. Plus, don’t forget to also celebrate when goals are met, to really boost engagement. And with an increase in engagement, you’ll be sure to also see an increase in productivity, because people start caring: they will find ways to do their job better and more efficiently — a win-win for everyone.

Tips to Get the Most Out of Goal Setting

We already highlighted ways to make your goals more specific and challenging, but there’s more you can do. Here are some tips for an even stronger goal setting game.

Start with a small, easily obtainable goal

If you’re new to goal setting, don’t turn everything upside down just yet. Introduce your new goal setting technique to your team by starting small. This will familiarize them with the concept and the practicalities of it, such as the system that you’ll be working with.

Moreover, start with something you know your team will reach. You don’t want your first goal setting adventure to be a failure — you want to motivate people to keep using this approach. Starting off with an easy win that you genuinely celebrate, will set you up for success later down the road.

Add a little competition

In some cases, you can motivate people to reach their goals even more by turning their goal into a friendly game or competition. Now, you don’t want departments or teams battling each other — everyone should be a winner — but make it more fun. You can do this by tracking progress in a place where everyone can see it, or with weekly emails highlighting milestones.

Another great thing to add is a reward for high performers, who meet deadlines early or exceed expectations. Celebrate every success and see how all being on the same team will make productivity soar!

Formulate goals that are inspiring, not draining

This goes back to the targets: they are not the same as goals. If we measure in KPIs or dry numbers, it’s hard to be inspiring. So, instead of asking your employees to close at least 25 cases a day, set the goal of reaching a higher score of customer satisfaction than last month.

Incorporate feedback in the process

It’s not just about getting it done; it’s also how you get there. That’s why we urge you to make feedback rounds a vital part of your process when working with goals. You’re using goal setting as a long-term strategy to boost productivity, so you want to make sure that the way goals are reached is aligned with the values and quality you stand for.

In your feedback rounds, also give your employees the space and time to talk about how they see the goals that have been set. Is it too ambitious? Is the timeline realistic, or are they under too much pressure? What parts are they missing or what part of the goal is unclear?

Ready? Set. Goal Setting!

What goals could you set within your business to give your productivity levels the boost it needs? Try thinking of areas that you really want to become successful in as a team, and start experimenting with goal setting there. Revisit and discuss often with your team, because at the end of the day, productivity is a team effort. Go get ’em!

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Our 15+ years of expertise in business productivity

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