Stop Over-Complicating It: Make Goal Setting Simple
Beatriz Boavida •
Jan 16, 2024 •
3 min read
If turning a goal into reality would be just like - BOOM here it is! – you would not be here, right?
As a leader, you are responsible for the outcomes your team achieves. Whether they meet expectations or not, it is on you to create the conditions for consistency and great work to emerge.
To meet success, you should start by mastering your goal-setting process.
Make team goals visible
Goals demand constant attention. If progress is what you are aiming for, it is crucial to check in with your goals regularly. When you have them clear in your mind, it is much easier to align your actions and prioritise according to the result you want to achieve. And the same is true for your team. Remember out of sight, out of mind.
Everyone should have easy access to the defined goals. If you place them on a platform you rarely use, you will be playing hide and seek with them, as it is easy to lose them in the business of everyday life.
Goals work as guidelines for high-level performance. As a leader, you should set up a smooth process for setting, checking in, and evaluating your team’s goals. To avoid over-complications, which are perhaps more common than you think, we have put together a 4-step framework to guide you in this process.
The Golden Goal-Setting Framework
To master the goal-setting process, you need to start pacing your work in repeatable and predictable cycles. These ensure your team is in the loop of what is going on, knows what to expect, and is able to fluidly follow the work cycles. In other words, it will be painless for them to plan their work and lives around the goals.
Here are the 4-steps you, as a leader, can implement for greater results:
- Set your goal-cycle scope. Each cycle can be anywhere from one to three months. Shorter than a month may not be enough to acknowledge the effects of your efforts. And in cycles longer than three months it can be more challenging to accurately make predictions. As most changes can be implemented within the three-month period, we advise you to only do longer than this scope if your team is superb and highly accurate when goal-setting.
- Start each cycle with 1:1s. Before the meeting with the team, schedule slots with each team member. The idea for these is to go over the evaluation each team member did of their previous goals – What worked? What went beyond expectations? What is still challenging? What can be reframed? – as well as their planning for the new goals. If you wish accountability for their own performance, they have to own their goals. Your job is to help them reflect, extract learnings, and make sure their new goals are ambitious but reasonable.
- Help divide goals into tasks. With each team member, support them in defining a set of actions they must perform to ensure they reach their goals.
- Set the pace for effective execution. With the goals carefully set, it is now your role to support your team with the implementation phase.
Throughout each cycle, and especially in the implementation phase, make sure you do regular check-ins with your team. Grab a cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and start a conversation (which can be async!) where you follow up and analyse progress. Organise your time for these moments to be daily or at least weekly.
To help your team stay motivated and engaged, praise their efforts and progress. Take the chance to celebrate both big and small wins.
Also, remember to focus on the low-performers. Help them identify roadblocks and remove those for them. Here you have the opportunity to act like a true leader, showing you are there for them and care about their performance.
The secret to translating ambitious vision into reality lies in the mastering of the goal-setting process. The smoother the process, the easier it gets for your team to achieve their goals.
As a leader, you play a critical role in navigating this transition. With a few great habits, you can help your team achieve success:
- Base your work on goal cycles;
- Set the goal-cycle scope to anywhere between one to three months;
- Start each cycle with 1:1 with each team member;
- Help transform goals into tasks;
- Set the pace for effective implementation;
- Do regular check-ins – find a sync or async system that works for you;
- Praise progress, even small wins;
- Focus on helping the low-performers.