Why Your Team Must be Setting Team Goals

With few employees fully understanding their company’s business strategies and what they can do to help achieve their organisation’s goals, it’s clear that companies need to do more for their business aims to be efficiently worked towards and achieved.

Setting goals at work is undeniably important. Setting specific and challenging goals inspires higher performance than setting none, or even setting ‘do your best’ goals which don’t really push people.

However, goal-setting isn’t just for individuals. Team goals are also key for keeping everyone aligned and working towards the same aims, whilst allowing people to have autonomy over their work.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Michael Mankins and Richard Steele estimated that, on average, most strategies deliver only 63 percent of their potential financial performance.

In their 2001 book, The Strategy-Focused Organization, Robert Kaplan and David Norton reported that “a mere 7 percent of employees today fully understand their company’s business strategies and what’s expected of them in order to help achieve company goals.” There is little evidence to suggest that either statistic has improved much in the last 10 to 12 years.

Failing at the task of effectively setting team goals which link to wider organisational aims is detrimental to the productivity of your employees. If they don’t know why they are being assigned a given task or unclear where that task fits in a larger vision, they are less likely to feel a drive to do it.

team goal setting exercise

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Benefits of setting team goals

Apart from helping the company achieve its objectives, setting team goals with your employees can boost employee engagement, productivity and retention by ensuring that every member of your team understands their role in the overall strategy.

Unsurprisingly, this can also save time and improve efficiency. Setting team goals also offers organisations the following benefits:

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Setting team goals keeps things open and ensures everyone’s on the same page. Providing team goals means people have their own responsibilities, but also that they know what the rest of the team is working on alongside them and thus never feel unfairly burdened by the team’s objectives.


Keeping employees in the loop in terms of wider organisational goals means people understand the wider purpose of what they are doing, and appreciate the value of their work outside of the actual tasks they’re undertaking. This boosts motivation levels and encourages people to achieve more.


Wrapping everyone’s individual goals up in the team goals means one person’s success is everyone’s success. Employees will be more likely to actively help their peers with any issues, and work collaboratively to get results, rather than adopting a more ruthlessly competitive mindset.

Examples of effective team goals

Regardless what type of team you have here are some examples of setting team goals to inspire you:

Boost work performance

The primary goal for any team is to grow better and better as each day goes by.

The first step to achieving this is to identify the various elements that affect your work quality. There are endless possibilities for such, anything ranging from personal challenges to external distractions. Next, the team can collaboratively pick a particular problem to tackle together and solve as a unit.

Finish projects on time

A key goal that every team needs to possess is to finish projects before they are due. There are many factors that can affect a team’s performance, one of the commonest being procrastination. This greatly affects the whole process along with its result, considering the amount of stress and pressure that the team has to put up with. It’s therefore important to practice proper time management.

Strengthen relationships

Leaders should arrange team building activities to help break any tension between members, and make everyone feel comfortable with each other. Not only will this allow the team to work together in harmony, but this can also help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of each member.

Open communication must be encouraged at all times to deal with misunderstandings promptly.

The primary goal for any team is to grow better and better as each day goes by.

How to get started with team goals

The key to effectively setting team goals is creating alignment between the objectives of the organisation, the team and at an individual level: everyone must be working towards the same outcome.

You must also make sure that your team understands, accepts and commits to those goals. The more you can involve your employees in setting goals for themselves and the group, the more committed to those goals they are likely to be.

When setting your team goals, it’s important to first understand the purpose behind what you’re asking of them. If the wider team goal is completed, what will it achieve? How will it benefit your organisation?

These larger goals can then be broken down into individual ones where each team member is allocated or picks a specific task in the workload that contributes to the wider goal.

Remember: goals were invented to harness motivation. So to do their job for the team, they need to be motivating. Goals that only focus on the end game don’t work and ruin performance.

Goals focused only on the outcome may motivate some team members though for others they will create a climate of fear, helplessness, slow decision-making and fragile confidence, and this mix is no good.

The key to setting team goals effectively is to cover three things – the end result you want, the things that will tell you you are on a winning path and the attitudes and behaviours that you need to develop in order to achieve your desired end result i.e. the why, what and how goals.

setting team goals

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How to measure the success of setting team goals

Where do you want to improve?

Choose an area on which to focus a goal for improvement. Many seemingly intangible goals can be restated in a measurable way. The unmeasurable “aim for happier clients” may be restated as the easily measured “reduce customer service calls,” for example.

How are you doing there so far?

Assess the current performance of your chosen improvement target. This identifies the starting line for your goal. When possible, use existing reporting with which you can monitor progress. A salesperson, for example, can either look at sales volume.

How much do you want to improve there?

Set an attainable target for improvement – this is your goal. The target should be realistic and achievable with the factors under your control. Setting a target higher than your current capacity can produce is self-defeating. Attainable goals create motivation, while unrealistic ones discourage.

By when should you improve that much?

Set a deadline for accomplishing your goal. The deadline also should be realistic and attainable. Depending on your target, breaking your deadline down into periodic review dates may help your progress and make aggressive targets more manageable.

How will you know you have improved that much?

Collect the appropriate measurement data from reports, work audits or other sources. Use a spreadsheet to isolate, track and analyse the information you need. Take information pertinent to your goals and plot it separately to track your progress.

In Summary

We all know the importance of setting clear goals at work. But setting goals doesn’t end at an individual level. Setting team goals sets the bar high for everybody.

Breaking down goals into more manageable chunks and assigning them to individuals is a great way to keep people on the same page, while allowing everyone to maintain autonomy over their work.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.