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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