6 Reasons Why Setting Team Objectives is a Management Must
Many managers see setting team objectives as a chore, an annoyance or something that HR requires us to do with little benefit to us. These can all be the case if we write the objectives down on a form and then leave them forgotten about in our desks.
There are great reasons why you as a manager should be very interested in setting team objectives and then actively using them to create a happier better performing team, which in turn helps you enjoy your job more and get promoted.
6 Reasons why setting team objectives is a management must include:
- Setting expectations gives the team a chance to hit team
- Provides goals and a direction of travel
- Setting team objectives co-ordinates activity – within the team and with other teams
- Objectives helps you drive accountability
- Team objectives helps you drive performance
- Team objectives provides a framework for fair and open rewards
So let’s take a close look at each.
Setting team objectives in the first place is only useful if you know why you are setting them and then how to use them to get benefits for your individual team members, your team and of course you.
First, Let’s go through 6 great reasons why setting objectives is so useful to managers of team no matter what size your team is – big or small. This is not an exhaustive list but covers 6 key benefits.
1. Setting Team Objectives Sets Expectations of what you want from the team
How do we know what is expected of us as team members if our manager doesn’t tell us? And then two weeks later we may have forgotten some of the team objectives set or they have become a little hazy.
This is why setting team objectives and then writing them down and sharing with the team is so useful. Everyone has a reference point and can refer back to the written objectives next week, next month etc
The very act of having to articulate what you want and having to put it into writing are going to make the objectives clearer for you and therefore for the team. Putting team objectives into writing also makes the expectations you are setting more permanent, more official. You could go further and put them up on the wall for all to see each day when they are in the office.
I always like to discuss the team objectives with the team first and get their input. Teams are great at making suggestions and improvements when you give them the chance. The added benefit is that the team objectives become their objectives as well. Ownership usually drives better performance which will come on to in a sec.
19 in 20 team members want to do a good job. What better way of telling them what a good job looks like. Once you have agreed and set team objectives, setting individual objectives becomes a lot easier.
A simple example of what can happen without setting clear expectations:
A team member carefully working through 10 insurance claims a day thinks they are going a great job. The manager has to ensure each person completes at least 20 claims a day on average. The manager is thinking of replacing the team member.
After setting the expectations, the team member easily does 20 claims a day. The work is not perfect, but it is still to a very good standard.
Set clear expectations.
2. Setting Team Objectives Provides Goals and a Direction of Travel
Setting team objectives gives the team a set of goals to aim for and achieve. Make sure the goals are clear or SMART and you are able to measure progress against them and communicate this with the team.
The benefits of setting team objectives are that you don’t have members of your team going in all directions, doing what they think is best. Instead they all work towards the common team goals.
Give your team the framework to support them moving in roughly the same direction towards the team objectives set. Setting team objectives helps the group work as a team rather than a collection of individuals do their best.
Teamwork makes it easier, more enjoyable and quicker to get to the objectives or goals set together as a team.
3. Setting Team Objectives create co-ordination within the team and with other teams
Most people working in a business need to work alongside others. They rely on colleagues using their work in some way or vice versa.
As the business grows, the team size increases, then the number of teams increase and so on. Communicating what is happening and what part everyone needs to play to get the best results gets that much harder as the numbers increase.
Setting team objectives is a very useful tool to help co-ordinate the activities of team members within a team, and also the teams within a business.
A classic example of no or little co-ordination might be the marketing team putting together an amazing campaign to drive product sales, but operations didn’t know about it so didn’t build up enough stock in anticipation of the sales increasing.
Or it might be the sales team making lots of sales, only to find out that half the sales they have made, cost the company profits because the finance team didn’t help set the pricing.
Working against each other’s interests or at cross purposes can happen when no team objectives have been set much more easily than when team objectives have been set.
When objectives have been carefully set and active co-ordination between individual or teams of activities and projects in line with those objectives, the likelihood of achieving better results, achieved in less time and using less resources increases considerably.
This is the reason all the top performing companies set team objectives and spend a lot of time of planning and co-ordinating activities.
When setting team objectives, spend the time with individuals and other teams to co-ordinate the goals and as much of the activities and projects as sensible. Keep revisiting as things change, sometimes quickly.
4. Setting Team Objectives helps you drive individual and team accountability
Setting team objectives and goals gives you the start of a framework to measure performance of individuals and teams.
If you can measure performance, you can create visibility of that performance by sharing the measurement of that performance with individuals and teams. With visibility and tracking of progress towards goals you can drive accountability.
Every one-to-one meeting, or catchup, you can enquire about progress, the roadblocks, the challenges and how the person or team is planning to keep on track or beat targets. You can coach and mentor them to help them get there quicker.
You can introduce some gamification – friendly competition to see who can get to their target first or who can make the most progress towards them. Peer pressure is very powerful. No-one likes to be last or letting the team down.
And you can tie bonuses, prizes, recognition, and praise to achieving the goals set. This positive reinforcement increases the individual benefits of reaching targets which again, can be powerful motivators.
All these actions will help you drive accountability with individuals and with teams and they all start with setting team objective and individual objectives.
5. Setting Objectives for team helps drive performance
When you have visibility, goals and tracking of progress against goals combined with teamwork to reach goals, support, friendly competition and ownership of the goals, chances are high that you will increase individual and team performance.
Increased performance helps everyone – the individuals, the team and the company.
A useful approach for the manager is to create the conditions described and then help the individuals and teams to get the best result as quickly as possible i.e. reaching the goals set out. Helping can take lots of forms:
- Getting the right resources in place as the right time
- Protecting the team from less important distractions
- Managing other stakeholder and outside influences
- Rolling your sleaves up and helping where needed
I am sure you can come up with many others.
On the flip side, by setting team objectives and individual objects and creating the visibility and support structures, you can take action with any individuals that don’t pull their weight, that disrupt team efforts, who have the wrong attitude or who are difficult.
Deal with these people fairly, considerately, sensibly etc but make sure that you deal with them in the best way to get them back on track or reduce or remove their negative influence on the team. The rest of the team who are performing will thank you for it.
Setting team objectives is a great step in driving individual and team performance. Increased performance helps you as their manager.
6. Setting Team Objectives gives you a fair open way to reward team members
Setting team objectives and individual objectives and tracking progress to reaching those goals and objectives gives you a great framework with which to reward the good performers and withhold rewards from poor performers.
The visibility of progress and data based tracking reduce the opinion based distribution of rewards that can be a minefield. Giving out rewards is seen to be a lot fairer. Being able to track your own progress toward the rewards can be very motivating in itself.
When rewards are only opinion based – say staying on the right side of your manager – then most of the staff are not sure if they will get rewarded or not. Without objectives, it becomes much harder to distinguish between poor, okay, good and great results and match the rewards according.
A good mix of rewards are usually better than just money. A few ideas to help you:
- Bonuses and pay rises
- Inclusion in interesting and CV building projects
- Public praise, including prizes and similar
- Private praise – emails, in one to one meetings, by the water cooler
- Extra holidays
Try to make the rewards something that the person receiving them values.
If you do a great job and hit your objectives and do so with the right behaviours, you get rewarded.
Setting team objectives and individual objectives are a very important starting place to improving team and individual performance as well as engagement, morale, happiness and a sense of achievement.
Setting objectives are only useful if you actively and regularly use the objectives set to drive behaviours and results. There is a lot you as the manager can do to help your team achieve amazing results.
Enjoy managing you team.
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