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  • corinnaluetsch

Team goals and individual goals

Preliminary discussion for a team development:

Team developer: "The team goals, are they clear to everyone in the team?"

Client: "Yes, sure. I think so. Well, actually this should be clear with us."

A fictitious dialogue, but one that I have had in a similar form more than once. And this despite the fact that the SMART formula, which describes the most important criteria for defining (project) goals, has now found its way into most business training courses and thus into the management floors.

A lot of energy is wasted while it is assumed that everyone is pulling together in the same direction. Too little attention is also paid when agreeing on employee goals to whether these are also in line with the team goals.

This leads to 3 different types of goals:

Team goals

For example

- Presentation at 5 trade fairs

- Winning X new clients

- Sale of X consulting hours

- Completion of the pilot phase of project X by Y

Employee goals / individual goals

For example

- Acquisition of X new clients

- More customer contact (possibly specified)

- Improvement of communication behaviour (possibly specified)

- Attendance at further training X

(hidden) personal goals

For example

- Replace Mr X as team leader

- to have peace of mind

- to gain experience in the field of X

- to make the management aware of my competences in X

- hold a position for 3 years

- win X as a new customer because I find X so exciting

Beware of competing goals!

If you let the different goals sink in, you can see that they can be quite beneficial to each other. If an employee has the goal of acquiring 5 new customers in the next year and one of the team goals is "winning X new customers", this can fit. The type and quality of the customers might still have to be defined.

If, however, the acquisition of company Z as a new customer is high on the employee's hidden agenda because he personally is a real fan of Z's products, but Z does not really fit into his employer's customer portfolio, difficulties may arise.

If an employee has the attendance of a time-intensive training course in the first quarter on her list of goals (agreed upon in the employee-supervisor meeting), but one of the team goals requires her undivided attention in the first quarter, a conflict of goals can arise.

For everyone to pull in the same direction....

  • Company and team goals must be clear to everyone. A PowerPoint slide at the Christmas party is usually not enough. Make sure that the goals are sufficiently anchored by talking within the team about what the goals mean for the team.

  • As a team leader, support your team in operationalising the team goals. Make sure that the goal becomes tangible and that all team members know what role they play on the way to achieving the goal.

  • Keep talking about the goals, both team and individual goals. This way they remain conscious and changes (e.g. in the market or in team resources) can be reacted to in time.

  • Check the hierarchy of goals. Team goals must serve the achievement of company goals, employee goals must serve the achievement of team goals. If there are conflicts or contradictions, they must be uncovered and eliminated.

  • It is helpful to remember that goals should not be set in stone and may also be changed - transparently for all those concerned.

  • Check the feasibility of the goals. Nothing is as demotivating as pursuing a goal that you secretly do not believe in, but which must not be questioned.

  • Not all hidden personal goals can be made transparent, that is in the nature of things. Nevertheless, a trusting atmosphere makes it possible to have one's cards peeked at with regard to one's own secret goals. This can be beneficial for both sides.

Conclusion? Keep an eye on the team goals, talk about these goals in the team. Consider the hierarchy of goals: company goals before team goals.

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