Monday, 9 January 2012

Beyond Smart: 5 strategies to achieve team goals

Working with teams can be tricky. It is challenging enough to achieve your own goals let alone align a group of people with their unique motivations, beliefs, personal objectives and experiences to a single goal, and one which may not be at the top of their list of priorities.

Whilst we are advocates of setting SMART objectives as a means of achieving team goals, SMART is simply a structure for thinking about and planning your goals. It is not the whole story. And because it has been used as a blunt instrument in the management world the mere mention of the word can be met with groans of despair by teams across the UK.

Here are 5 things you need to do to help teams achieve your business goals in addition to SMART.

1.  Give people something worth being part of

Jim Rohn once said "You want to set a goal that is big enough that in the process of achieving it you become someone worth becoming." You don't have to be the CEO to do this. Regardless of the size of your team or your level in the organisation you work with your team to set a vision that is meaningful, important and motivating. Generally – this is not going to be expressed as making more money, getting more customers or being number one.
If you can help people relate goals to purposein the work that they do then you will stand a better chance of keeping them engaged and focused on achieving their goals.

2. Your team has the answers, involve them

Involve people in goal setting and decision-making, particularly if they are on the front line, they have a significantly better perspective on what's really going on. Each person will bring a different perspective, experience, skill-set and knowledge to a particular problem.  Give everyone the chance to be heard. Listen intently, especially to the negative (yes some people are life's moaners, but the vast majority of negative feedback is valuable information about your business) and the quiet ones.

When goals are set from the top, with each manager setting goals for the next person down, then you may be setting your business up to fail. Goal setting like this leads to silo thinking, with each person only looking at their corner of the business at best and active sabotaging of your business goals at worst.

3. Start with what you want to have happen

What is the change that you want to make? What do you want to be different about the current situation? You should seek to describe the type of change and the number of changes in detail with you team. Really get into the detail of change. So instead of having a team goal to “develop a work plan by Q3”, your team may get to a goal such as “develop a simple, living plan, which makes it easy for others to understand what we do and work with us”. In this way your team will help you to define the benefits of the goal that will solve a particular problem.

It is also more motivating to focus on the benefits.  Research indicates that the more time you spend focusing on the benefit of the goal the more likely you and your team are to achieve it. ("Letting Good Opportunities Pass Us By: Examining the Role of Mindset during Goal Pursuit." Journal of Consumer Research: December 2010.)

This is the specific part of SMART taken to another level.  

4. Keep your goals alive

You set goals at the start of the year with or for your team, or at the start of a project and then you spend the rest of the year doing other “stuff”. By the time you get to the end of the year you open your bottom draw, pull out your goals and work out if you have met them or not. Sound familiar?

If something is important enough to be a goal make it visible to everyone. It keeps the goal top of mind for your team and it tells others of your intentions.
In a number of research studies, going public was found to be motivating in helping people achieve their goals. (Self reinforcement effects: An artefact of social setting. Journal of applied behaviour analysis 1985).

Turn them into a living plan with mini-steps, timescales and measures and keep this somewhere visible too. 70-75% of people experience the world through their visually so bring your goals and plans to life. Use a variety of imagery, colour, fonts and media to bring your goals to life. Keeping your goals visible will also stimulate your team to review progress on a regular basis, but make sure you also allocate specific time to do this.

5.  Reward, reward, reward

How often do you tell people they have done well? Hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly? We hear managers say they only praise when the team has done exceptionally well i.e. if they are simply doing a good job this is what they get paid for, so none necessary.
But praise and reward is exceptionally important in valuing people (especially when it is combined with the ability to challenge unacceptable behaviour). There is a correlation between praise and repeating desired behaviour. Research supports the use of external incentives such as encouragement and social approval in building internal motivation. (David Beswick, Management implications of the interaction between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic rewards. University of Melbourne).

Creating an environment of authentic reward is one in which people enjoy working. You may also want to consider letting the team determine how they would like to be rewarded for achieving certain sub-goals.  For each step the team or an individual takes in achieving your business goal, make sure you encourage and praise.

No comments:

Post a Comment