5 Steps to set inspiring team goals (with examples)

Written by: Nora St-Aubin | Illustrated by: Clément Lavedan
Published on September 10, 2020 | Reading time: 8m

Part of the role of a manager is connecting your team’s work to the broader mission of the company, and guiding them to success. Especially in the era of remote work, ensuring alignment is as important as ever.

What makes all this possible? Meaningful and attainable team goals that are aligned with both the company strategy and the individual strengths of your employees. As a manager, you have the important task of setting these goals for your team. It’s your role to help establish what needs to get done with your team members, so they can bring their creativity and expertise to the forefront, and figure out how to get there together.

Why are team goals important for business success?

When employees have a clear understanding of the company strategy and how their work contributes to their team’s role in it, they form an aligned, motivated, and high-performing workforce—exactly what drives business success. But this doesn’t just happen; it takes dedicated efforts from every level of leadership to create clarity of the mission, objectives, and each team and individual’s role in actualizing it.

Setting clear, motivating, and attainable goals for your team connects their work with the goals of the organization, and doing this effectively underpins every other element of your role. Team alignment supports you in coaching employees, prioritizing initiatives, strengthening collaboration, and maintaining healthy team dynamics.

Whether you’re an expert or this is your first time setting team goals, you don’t have to do it alone. Let’s check out the how-to of team goal setting.

officevibe team goals UI

Transparency creates clarity

Having a centralized location for team members to refer to collective goals promotes transparency and keeps them front-of-mind for everyone. Officevibe makes team goals easily accessible, and easier to align with business objectives and individual employee goals. Try it free!

5 steps to set inspiring team goals (with examples)

This 5 step goal setting process will guide you along the way to establishing the right goals for your team.

Step one: understand the business goals

It might seem obvious, but it’s essential that you and your employees have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the business goals. Meet with your own manager to go over them, then present them to your team. Remember that presenting objectives is a time to get buy in, so complement sharing the hard numbers with motivating communications around the larger strategy and your belief in the team.

Step two: connect your team’s work to the business goals

Once everyone has a common understanding of the bigger picture you’re all contributing to, explore how your team’s work accounts for its own piece of the pie. Work together with your team to pinpoint where you can have the greatest impact.

Questions to ask with your team

  • What areas of the company strategy do we see ourselves reflected in?
  • Where can we have the greatest impact as a team?
  • Which KPIs does our work contribute to directly?
  • Which KPIs does our work contribute to indirectly?
  • What sub-metrics of company KPIs is your team responsible for?

Narrowing down where to direct your collective focus helps you create clearer goals and more effectively prioritize initiatives with your team.

Step three: draft SMART team goals

Come up with a first iteration of goals for your team using the smart goal setting method. Create goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound.

SMART team goals examples

  • Increase month-over-month client retention from 75% to 80% by the end of the third quarter.
  • Produce at least one project in a format we’ve never tried each quarter.
  • Obtain a qualified lead score above 30% from all lead generation initiatives this quarter.
  • Increase team’s Collaboration With Peers score by 1 point in the Officevibe Engagement Report by the end of the month.
  • Reduce average request response time from 1 hour to 45 minutes in the next 3 months.

Get our free, collaborative goal-setting guide to set your employee on the right path.

Setting Meaningful Goals that Stick

Step four: get feedback, iterate, and adjust when needed

Present your goals to your team and to your manager and ask for their feedback. Tap into their knowledge and perspectives to take your goals from good to great, and ensure they really align with your team’s reality. This is also a great way to get everyone feeling inspired and motivated to achieve these goals.

Don’t be afraid to adjust when needed. Have touchpoints with your team and your manager as time passes to ensure that your goals still make sense. Things can shift quickly, and you want to be sure to hold down your team with a solid sense of direction.

Step five: maintain alignment with continuous communication

Frequent communication around team goals is essential to maintaining alignment, especially when you’re working remote. Have weekly or bi-weekly team meetings and have a different employee present the goals and whether you’re on track to the team. Make sure everyone is well-equipped to measure progress with clear key performance indicators and targets, and the necessary tools to track these metrics easily.

You’ll also need a dedicated recurring moment to go over what’s in the pipeline, flag any potential roadblocks or risks, manage workloads, and prioritize together. Sometimes things seem simpler on paper, or end up getting done more quickly than expected once the right resources are put in place. Adaptability and flexibility with timelines and workflows are essential to ensuring the work gets done without compromising in quality, nor overloading anyone.

officevibe team goals UI

Stay connected with your team

To be there for your team, it’s important to have an ongoing understanding of their reality, their challenges, and their concerns. Officevibe helps you keep a pulse on your team and facilitates safe exchanges between managers and employees, so you can spot issues early and direct your support where they need it most. Try it free!

Turning team goals into action

Once you’ve established your goals and aligned your team around them, it’s time to translate them into action! This is exciting, as it’s where employees get to really connect their work with the team objectives, and visualize how their projects feed into the business strategy. Here are some tips on how to best support your team in achieving their goals.

Create an action plan with your team

Not only do employees want (and deserve) a say in the work they do, they’re the best people to know how their skills and strengths apply to collective goals. Have a brainstorm session with your team to come up with ideas for how you’ll meet your goals, and decide together which ones you’ll tackle.

Team brainstorm agenda 1.5 hours

  1. Present the meeting agenda and recap the goals to the team, connecting them to business objectives. 10 mins
  2. Time for questions and clarifications. 10 mins
  3. Each employee writes ideas on post-its and places them on a shared board (try a virtual whiteboard like Miro or InVision for a remote brainstorm) under the goal they relate to. 10 mins
  4. Employees present their post-its to the team, explaining why they chose them and how they see them feeding into the goals. 20 mins
  5. Grouping similar ideas together in clusters. 20 mins
  6. Have employees vote for their top 1-3 choices of ideas using a prioritization matrix such as customer delight vs. team investment. 10 mins
  7. Close out your meeting by having each person share a quick check-in on how they feel about the initiatives selected. 10 mins
Team_brainstorm_template

Repeat this process every quarter or each time there are big shifts to your team goals. Keeping everyone aligned means revisiting goals and adjusting initiatives when needed.

What to do when goals aren’t met

This can be disappointing for everyone, especially when your team has worked really hard towards their goals. Remember that as a manager you’re not separate from the team, but a part of it. Now is a time to come together and use that collective brain power. Have a team retrospective to not just reflect on what blocked you, but set action items for how you can apply these learnings and adjust your processes and work methods going forward.

Questions to reflect on with your team

  • What blocked our success as a team?
  • Were there external factors at play?
  • Is there something we could have foreseen, but didn’t?
  • What have we learned through this experience?
  • How can we apply these learnings going forward?

You want to create a safe space where employees feel comfortable to share their honest perspectives, so you can effectively move forward as a team. One way to facilitate this is by sending an anonymous survey where everyone can answer these questions without fear of being judged or facing conflict. You can build a personalized team survey with Officevibe Custom Polls to better understand your employees’ experience.

Aligning employee goals with team goals

To build a motivated and high-performing team, each employee should have a sense of purpose in their role, and feel that their work has meaning. This happens when everyone has a clear understanding of not only what’s expected of them, but how it contributes to the bottom line of the team and business. Setting meaningful employee goals that align with team objectives connects team members to the bigger picture, driving employee engagement and motivation.

Tips for setting individual goals

  • Make it collaborative: employees want to have a voice in their career trajectory, and setting goals collaboratively builds accountability and personal commitment.
  • Focus on strengths: personalize each employee’s goals based on their individual strengths—what unique skills or expertise do they bring to the team?
  • Connect with team goals: tools like Officevibe can support you in creating a clear line between Individual Goals and Team Goals, and following up on progress.

Get our free, collaborative goal-setting guide to set your employee on the right path.

Setting Meaningful Goals that Stick

When team goals are clearly established and each employee understands their role in achieving them, it supports you in leading your team to success. Follow the steps in this guide and refer back to them whenever needed to keep your team on track and motivated.