Setting Team Goals or Setting Own Goals?


Goals and Objectives

Setting goals and objectives on an annual basis for your team can always be a challenge. The quality of the goals and objectives set is normally a reflection of the amount of time that has been spent thinking about them.

Think about it – why do we set goals and objectives for everyone in the organization?

They are normally there to support and re-enforce the company objectives in business. They are also utilized to allow the person to grow and develop in a role.

For example, as part of the annual strategy the company will kick off a project. Then a goal will be set by the manager for one of his team based around that project. Unfortunately I have seen goals that read something like:

Support the Plant Upgrade Project

Support the Junior Engineers on the Project Team

Work with Finance to achieve a better level of reporting each month


When I look at these types of Goals – I have a number of questions

  1. Why do these goals exist?
  2. How can these be measured?
  3. Are they specific enough?
  4. Are these Goals in Line with the objectives and priorities of the business?
  5. What will the organization gain from each of these?


These sample goals stink of a practice of ticking the boxes in order to get this task done – i.e. manager is fed up having to do lots of performance reviews and just goes through the motions not really changing tack from year to year.

What is the result of this? Unclear goals – hard to measure. You may have good team members who will perform regardless or you may have people on your team that recognize that goals are suitably unclear and will argue when challenged at the next review.

Transform These Goals

Start with the first example

“Support the Plant Upgrade Project “– lets pimp (enhance and upgrade) this goal


How can he/she support the project – and in what way or ways?


  1. Meet with the Project Manager Twice Weekly to understand Project Status and Performance
  2. Communicate All Project Metrics to the Site Leadership
  3. Convey all issues and request for support from the Project manager to the Site leadership
  4. Ensure that all requests are responded to within 2 days
  5. Review all changes to project scope and assess for impact to schedule and cost
  6. Continue with this until end Q3 2017 or until project is complete
  7. Project Budget contingency spend must not exceed 10% of original budget
  8. Ensure that site based project resources prioritize project commitments ahead of daily standard work – Escalate to Site Leadership for a decision where this is not the case
  9. Review the project scope monthly to ensure alignment with corporate objectives


Notice the difference

  1. Goals are more specific and prescriptive
  2. There are metrics involved
  3. The Project will end at some stage – time based
  4. Now the person has a vital role in the project not just an implied role.

The key message here is that the success of the project is a key influencing factor on the performance rating of the person involved. It should also be clear to the individual that they have a role to play in the success of the organization.

Lack of Clarity

If you allow ambiguous goals to be set – what will you measure against? You are just giving the person ammunition to argue with you come review time.  In addition to a difficult review meeting the other fallout is likely to be a lack of motivation.

If a person is measured against performance and they meet and exceed targets, the evidence is obvious and therefore the rating will be good.

If someone has an unclear goal and believes that they have performed well throughout the year – imagine their surprise when this belief is challenged? This will be a challenge to manage. I have witnessed many scenarios over the years where staff have been so far removed from the mission of the organization that they have not been able to make any connection between their own contribution and the success of the organization. (Senior Management probably have a lot to answer for here!)

Why? How? What?

One pointer I have always used when setting goals is “Why?” – why is the goal needed or why is it important? How will it help the company achieve its goals? How will the goal help the individual develop and grow? Finally – what will the goal deliver or contribute to if the goal is achieved? Above all this involves thought. Maybe even run a workshop or brainstorm session to tease out the detail.

Goals need to be set and they need to be clear and unambiguous. They can be your best friend as a manager or your worst enemy. Make them count and make them deliver for you your team and your organization.

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Hiring a Project Manager?……Choose Wisely…….Choose Differently.


Of course no amount of time spent selecting and interviewing will ever guarantee a perfect candidate that will always deliver. I’ve had some great hiring successes and some not so good experiences in the past. I have learned that when selecting a Project Manager, you need to think a little differently.
Looking at the hiring process:

Job Description
Final Interview
Job Offer

After following this process – you can still choose either the wrong person or the person who is not “quite right”.
A CV (Résumé) can look great, references can check out and interviews can go fantastically well and still the chosen candidate can be the wrong one. There are as many interviewing techniques and aptitude tests than there are role descriptions themselves. It can be a huge challenge to match the right person with the right role and ensure that the personality will be a good fit for the organization and the rest of the team.

So how do you start to do something different?


I’ve always felt that the interview process is given very little time in general – i.e. – you interview for an hour and hire the person for a permanent role for years. Do we really give ourselves enough time to think the hire through?

Why not try to spend more time with the people we are hiring in both normal and abnormal situations. In addition to the standard interview – go for a walk with the person – grab a coffee or lunch together. See how they behave in the outside world and how they treat others in the general public – not only in work environment.


There are a number of commonly used methods for understanding personality types and they all help. (Contact us below and we can provide some useful links).  It is important to understand personalities and these methods are quite accurate in categorizing a personality type. You can design a functioning and effective team around how different personalities work together. There is an abundance of research material out there to back this up. But to really see the person why not try something different?

Go for lunch with the candidate to a restaurant where you know the food is awful and the service is even worse. When something goes wrong – see how they react. Observe the facial expressions and the body language. If you really want to shake it up a little – “bump” into another “colleague” by “accident”. Make the introductions and again see how the candidate responds. Talk about more general topics other than the role than those associated with the current role. How would this person react under pressure? How do they manage an unforeseen event? What is your general impression and that of your colleague?

Ok so this approach may sound a little alternative but think about it. You will get to see more of the person than just a discussion about the résumé.

Make an effort to get a good feel for who the person really is. How would this person work with and manage existing resources in the organization? If this is a customer facing role – knowing the personalities of your key clients – how would this candidate work with and communicate with your clients?


Remember that although experience and track record are a huge factor in hiring the right person, it is the personality that will guide the person to say the right things and the right time to the right audience. People do business with people. Choose the person.

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project management

Recurring Project Issues? – You May Already Have The Solution.


Some years ago I was working with a client that was constantly working to improve their processes in particular in relation to project delivery.

A substantial effort was undertaken at the end of each project to do a review of the project in terms of what went well, what did not go well, what can be improved upon, what should be continued and what should be stopped.

This is an effective process of it is followed in earnest and the learnings are implemented on subsequent projects. I did a review of previous projects and each one of them had run a “Lessons Learned” workshop at the end of the project.

What was the issue?

The problem was that the report was filed away safely ……….and unfortunately was not being reviewed or utilised by subsequent projects.

This was compounded by the fact that the same recurring issues were being experienced on new projects when the knowledge to avoid a recurrence of the issues was in their hands prior to the commencement of each project. The recurring issues resulted in increased time and costs and in some cases this was substantial.

The Way Forward

We then ran a workshop using the results of the “Lessons Learned” workshops for a broad range of projects. The recurrence of the same issues over consecutive projects was disappointing at best and frustrating at worst.

The leadership team in the organization were eager to understand how the outputs of the workshops were ignored and never utilised. The reasons were myriad – cultural, personal, managerial, procedural. This didn’t matter at this stage as the ship had sailed for the opportunity for many projects to benefit from previous learnings.

We then performed a gap analysis of the current project set up and operating procedures against each of the learnings. The gaps were obvious and as was the next course of action.

Procedures and associated training modules were updated to reflect the learnings. A simple check to review the lessons learned database for relevance to the new project prior to commencement.

Another change that was made was to run a lessons learned workshop at strategic points throughout the project to ensure that the current project could benefit from its own learnings.

What is the status now?

A couple of years after the changes were introduced, the current results are extremely positive and the mid project review workshops are becoming part of the fabric of project delivery. These are the responsibility of the project managers to deliver and report back on.

Regular audits are performed on the projects to ensure that the workshops take place but also that previous learnings are taken into account at the beginning of each project.

This was an example of how a couple of simple changes implemented had a lasting effect on future project efficiency. These procedures are now the norm and are an integral part of project delivery at this organization.

Need help?

If you are struggling to come to terms with repetitive project issues and you need some advice or support, contact us by email: with some background on your particular issue and we’ll be in touch.

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Tips for Kick-starting a Troubleshooting or Problem Solving Exercise

Here are a couple of pointers to help you to focus and make some real progress at the early stages of an investigation or troubleshooting exercise.

Background to the Problem – Why have you been called to support or help resolve the issue – what is the nature of the problem? – has the issue been defined?

What is the problem statement? Has the issue been clearly described? Do not jump head first into the exercise until a clear concise definition of the problem is available. A problem statement can come in many forms. If the team are having difficulty with this – start with 2 simple questions that will help you to define the problem. Typically this is either that


Something occurred that was not expected to occur


Something did not occur that should have occurred

 Start here with these two scenarios to get the discussion going. How is it known that a problem occurred? What evidence is available? Assume nothing here.


When did the issue first occur?

When posing this question, it is important to understand the difference between the symptom and the underlying cause. A symptom is the effect of the problem and although related to the problem, the focus should remain on the reasons behind or the cause of the symptom. The first symptom may have manifested itself sometime after the root cause event that triggered the symptom. Therefore – How did the problem first manifest itself? What evidence is available to substantiate the claims? Event logs alarm logs, trends, historical data and audit trails can provide an insight into this.


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Troubleshooting Guide