Goals on Every Level – Enabling Your Team to Become More Productive

Goals on Every Level – Enabling Your Team to Become More Productive
21 Feb 2017

Most of us have come across goal setting in one way or another, be that at work when your boss comes over and tells you that you have to reach a certain sales target next quarter, or when we make a new year’s resolution to learn a new language.

Why Set Goals?
Research on the topic of goal setting has been around for more than 50 years and a lot of it has been aggregated to an area called Goal Setting Theory, with countless studies and experiments on a variety of topics highlighting plenty of good reasons to get into the habit of setting goals, both for teams and individuals.

One of the main advantages of a well-defined goal is that it gives you Direction and Focus. This is important so that everyone is on the same page about what should be worked on, but also what problem not to tackle right at this moment. For example, as a DBA your target could be to improve the database response time, which gives you a clear direction in order to decide what to focus your energy on.
When goals are used the right way, they can increase Engagement. A recent study by Gallup shows that worldwide only 13% of employees are engaged at work, while the remaining 87% are either not actively contributing to the company objectives (not engaged) or trying to undermine the team (actively disengaged).

Further, goals can have a positive impact on Motivation, which is closely related to the effect on engagement mentioned before. A great way to achieve this benefit is if you are directly involved in the goal setting process. In other words, you decide yourself what your goals are instead of your boss telling you.

The effect that has been most researched is the impact on Performance. Multiple studies have shown that setting goals can increase quantitative output by up to 16%. The harder the targets are, the more performance they can yield, but only to a certain point when the effects start to wear.

Limitations when setting Goals
After exploring some of the benefits, let us briefly talk about some of the negative effects that can occur when working with objectives, a good thing to be aware of when introducing goals into your company or team.

The most commonly known problem with targets is that it can lead to Unethical Behaviour. This is a well studied topic, with research showing that people with goals are four times more likely to lie about their performance, even if they are within reach.

Goal Setting Frameworks
Now that we explored the key benefits of goals as well as some negative aspects of it, we can explore some of the popular goal setting frameworks and analyse their usefulness in certain situations.

Goals on every Level at Redbubble
we are creating a global marketplace for independent artists. The company itself is structured into small, self-organising teams that are responsible for a certain area of the business, for example making sure that our customers get the best possible shopping experience. Each of our teams is as cross-functional as it needs to be in order to achieve the best possible results and as autonomous as possible – one of three elements of motivation, together with mastery and purpose .

Best practices when working with Goals
The model described in the previous chapter works quite well for us, and some of the presented ideas might or might not work with your team so please apply it with an Agile mindset and adjust it in ways to fit your situation. There are however a few general concepts which should be taken into account universally.

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