3 Effective Frameworks for Setting Team Goals

Any business is only as good as the people who serve it. So, if you are running a business, it becomes your responsibility to make sure that people working for you are motivated enough to invest all their abilities into their daily tasks. With that said, goal setting is one of the brilliant ways to motivate employees. Of course, if it’s done correctly. Otherwise, it can have an absolutely opposite effect.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about why motivation is important in the work settings and cover 3 goal setting frameworks that work very effectively whenever a company needs to set goals for teams.

Why is motivation so important in the workplaces?

Motivation is a psychological drive that makes people want to achieve their objectives. A highly motivated individual feels desperate to fulfill a particular purpose or goal. A famous American educator, speaker, author, Stephen Richards Covey once said: “Motivation is a fire from within….”  Which means that motivation is one of the fundamental elements of setting and accomplishing a target.

Yes, motivation is the key factor that fosters a strong desire to become a doer and achieve goals instead of just thinking about them. And so employees do need some kind of motivational drive to work effectively since levels of motivation have a strong and direct influence on an employee’s efficiency. 

So, if you’re running a business or company, here are 3 things that you need to do first:

  • Give them clear ownership of well-defined tasks and responsibilities;
  • Make sure they have the proper tools & training, means, abilities, and resources to do the job;
  • Follow-up and provide timely feedback/accountability.

Those people who have more drive and motivation, turn out to be the most productive employees using their potential to the highest. Motivated employees can increase productive outcomes and allow a company to reach goals and higher levels of performance.

Okay, let’s talk now about 3 goal setting frameworks that work well.

What is the OKRs framework about?

OKRs was first introduced by Google & Intel and deciphers as “objectives & key results”. This particular system is about top company’s goals which then gets broken down to be distributed among working teams and departments, as well as on individual scale.

If you are running a business/company and don’t have a goal setting system in place, your employees probably have no idea what your topmost priorities are right now. This also means that they have no idea how their work connects with company goals. Without clarity about top company goals and how their work connects to them, employees are more likely to be disengaged. 

Consequently, everyone ends up working on their own independent “busy work” with no real connection or alignment. In other words, no one really knows what others have been working on. That’s where OKRs come into play to resolve these problems.

What is the main key to OKRs implementation? 

The OKRs framework usually gets developed from top-down and bottom-up, with the top management setting strategic goals. Each department sets departmental goals around strategic goals. While employees set goals of their own along with the execution plans.

3 necessary steps to fast OKR implementation:

  • Discussion. After a supervisor proposes an idea, the company conducts a discussion to determine this goal along with all the KRs (key results).
  • Reporting. Communicate progress in real time, identify problems and look for right ways to resolve them timely. Also, think about the best ways to collaborate efficiently.
  • Review. Periodically review the achievement of goals and KRs to improve the implementation plan.

Practical experience shows that once OKRs are in place, processes work more efficiently.

OKRs’ positives:

  • OKRs foster collaboration and transparency, so everybody is aligned with everybody else’s progress on tasks and can keep a good track of what team members have been working on. Also, it helps to evaluate how individual contributions fit into a broader picture.
  • OKRs framework boosts adaptability. Since goals get evaluated frequently in shorter cycles, all required adjustments can be made right on time making an overall workflow go smoother.

The OKRs’ trade-offs:

  • As it spans 3 or 5 KRs (or key results) in every objective, everything can get quite overwhelming easily.
What is the SMART framework all about?

The SMART system was introduced back in `81 and was created by A. Miller, G. Doran, James Cunningham to help companies with setting clear & reachable goals faster with no hassle. As a matter of fact, SMART is still incredibly popular. The reason is because it works very well whenever teams need to define their goals with strict time-frames and urgency. 

Also, SMART is popular because this method is proven effective for measuring progress in teams. It is a very handy tool if the workflow involves setting specific goals and serves as a “starting point” for the project.

With the SMART framework, teams can set measurable goals. Such goals are usually more personally relevant which boosts commitment instantly and get much greater likelihood from team members.

The SMART system is also incredibly helpful for making time-bound goals. Teams put a time cap on tasks that they want to achieve within the next month or a year. It can help increase accountability and motivate people to take all required actions.

An abbreviation SMART stands for:

  • Specific or well-defined
  • Measurable/meaningful
  • Achievable or attainable
  • Relevant, which means motivational
  • Time-bound/deadlines

In other words, Specific is about not being vague, giving your team something to strive for which your staff can clearly see.

Measurable is about finding the most effective way to measure progress, otherwise employees will get frustrated. A goal without a measurable outcome is like a tea without sugar, and business without profit, means that every entrepreneur thinks about a measurable outcome not just an outcome.

Attainable is about making sure that goals correlate with employees’ professional abilities and talents.

Relevant implies a sense of accomplishment, as well as belief that this particular goal will work.

Timebound is about establishing a time constraint without forcing people to get it done no matter what. As practical experience shows that if there is no set time-frame tied to a project, this makes it harder to get things done.

SMART’s positives:

  • Delivers systematic approaches to setting wellstructured goals;
  • SMART goal template makes everything even better;
  • A huge amount of different resources on SMART because of its huge popularity.

SMART’s trade-offs:

  • An actual process can turn out being labor-intensive & rather lengthy;
  • Can leave not enough space for flexibility (because of its rigid nature) which can become a real problem whenever it comes down to accomplishing long-term goals.
  • Experience shows that SMART can actually suppress creative ideas.
What is the BHAG framework about?

The term “BHAG” basically stands for “Big & Hairy Audacious goals”. The concept was first introduced back in `94 and created by a famous American consultant, speaker, researcher, and author, James C. Collins. He described the BHAG framework in his own following statement: “BHAG gets you out of thinking too small. And that’s where its power is… It changes time-frames by creating a great sense of urgency simultaneously.”

If you work with an organization which implements BHAG, everything becomes not so much about a revenue target. But rather about customer engagement. The main purpose of BHAG is to make employees more ambitious (audacious) and excited to get stuff done. In addition, some organizations have a so-called “rocks” system. That’s  where each employee is limited to let’s say about 5 rocks per quarter. However, in this case, these “rocks” are not a hurdle. Have you ever heard this story about a mentor who used to teach students about time management with a glass jar, a pile of sand, and some rocks?

Okay, here is the story: one group of students puts sand inside the jar first. And then tried to put the big rocks in. The big rocks didn’t fit. The other set of students put the big rocks in the jar, and then poured the sand over the rocks. The moral of this story – put the big rocks in first. And everything else is just sand. So, you’re not supposed to pay attention to it.

Some examples:

As you go through your day, keep asking yourself how your actions relate to the company’s BHAG framework. So, each person on the team can ask a question at any time: “Does this particular task relate to our BHAG?” In case if an overall answer is “No, it doesn’t”, everyone is on the same page. 

If a company cultivates and implements such a system, lots of amazing stuff happens. For example, those employees who might appear to be great workers just because they’re good at politics suddenly start to feel uncomfortable and incompatible. Eventually, some of them even leave because the integrity in the organization was way too uncomfortable for them to handle.

Also, there were examples when employees would increase their effectiveness dramatically after they got aligned with the BHAG system. They feel like they want to work harder and contribute more to established goals. Once they had something specific to work toward, they went out and sought training for themselves to become more effective at their jobs. And it’s really quite amazing!

The BHAG’s positives:

  • Helps focus on a bigger picture regardless whether it is a prompt company or team.
  • Aligns everybody by establishing a purpose clearly.
  • Promotes & favors a creative vision while discouraging narrow-minded approaches.
  • Makes you leave a comfort zone.
  • Promotes and encourages some out-of-the box thinking processes.

BHAG’s trade-offs:

  • One of the main disadvantages is that it won’t let you split your bigger goals into smaller tasks so the team will take one step at a time. This is something that’s often a must if you want your team to have consistent progress.

Goal setting motivates employees if employees are either:

  • Inspired – medium/long-term motivation.
  • Incentivized – short/medium/long term motivation (depending on career ambitions).
  • Scared – short-term motivational intention.

If a business company utilizes any goal setting frameworks, odds are the employees will be provided with a clear picture of what good happens if they perform efficiently. On the other hand, goal setting can be extremely precarious since they’re only effective if the goals are created properly, discussed regularly in order to be achieved. 

The truth is that many employees can actually end up hating goal setting. They do it once and then the goals are never discussed until the performance review comes up. Or, the employee sets unrealistic goals, misses the mark and becomes discouraged. And none of the managers want to have this happen.

You can learn more about goal setting for teams with online courses on Grinfer!

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