If it’s that time of year to focus on the year ahead and you’re exhausted by the idea of SMART goals, you’re not alone. Goal setting is great, but if you’re trying to motivate an entire team to come together and achieve greatness as a cohesive unit, individualized goals aren’t going to get you there. While individualized goals have an important place, they send a message that your top priority is individual performance and success.
If you’re a progressive leader and know the value of team cohesiveness and collaboration, you know that how your team functions as a unified group is just as important as how the individuals achieve success. Where the leader of an individual contributor concentrates on one piece of an engine to ensure it’s performing, a team leader needs to lift up and focus on all of the pieces as a synergistic unit, ensuring that each part is bringing energy to all of its complementary parts.
Most team leaders miss the mark on emphasizing team achievements, but it’s not difficult to start bringing attention to how your team targets collective success. Here are three innovative ways to pull your team together to plan for the year ahead as a team:
- Ask your team to develop a legacy plan. If they were to fast-forward to the end of the year and look back, what would they want others to say about the year? How would others describe the way the team impacted the organization, how they worked together, their reputation, and what they accomplished? Brainstorm and distill a succinct description. Then ask the team to identify actions the team can take to make that vision a reality. The key here is emphasizing the impact of the entire team while isolating how individual contributions can lend to everyone’s success.
- Define specific team-based goals. Reinforce the significance of working as a collective unit to your team. Brainstorm goals that pertain to the entire team rather than to individuals. These goals can be tangible (like measurable team sales goals) or aspirational (like creating happy customers). Choose goals that everyone can contribute to and that create real impact to the organization. Next define what that would look like and how your team would measure these goals. Then have each individual define how they will contribute to the team goal and have them present to their teammates.
- Create a team vision. Ask your team to describe what kind of team they aspire to be. Not what they want to do or accomplish, but who they want to be. This may seem fluffy and light, but bear with me for a second- when a team agrees on the behavioral norms that will lead to cohesion and success, they gain a clearer picture of how to be with their teammates. It becomes more obvious to them when they step outside of the lines and gives them a language to talk about how to achieve greatness together. For example, if your team identifies ‘positivity’ as a trait they’d love your team to embody, it allows team members to evaluate their own level of positivity and aspire to be more positive. It also gives permission to teammates to gently hold their partners accountable to being positive. Sometimes by defining our collective state of being we can recondition our behavior to create a more cohesive team.
For most leaders of larger teams, the top priority is nowhere near as simple as individual performance, so let’s start emphasizing the importance of how our teams work together as collective units to create excellence. This will only happen if you make it clear to your team that you want to focus on and measure results at that level.