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 5 Things That Sabotage
Team Goals

As a leader with vision, you understand the importance of having solid goals for your teams. Goals are the milestones that move company visions forward and provide a focal point for teamwork. Goals create shared understandings of success and opportunities for coherent accountability.

Not all goals are created equal, however. Poorly constructed goals often go unattained, and all the productivity and positive intangibles anticipated go unactualized. Goals that are too vague, unchallenging, or uninspiring, for instance, should be reconceived to have that inspiring, challenging focus which brings teams together to accomplish ambitious organizational end states. Here are five things that you should avoid when formulating those team goals:
Unattainable Goals- Some goals can be so ambitious that they are never actually achieved. Teams can easily become demotivated if goals are constructed in a way that does not allow for a sense of accomplishment or that does not provide a sense of progress. If your goals are too large, consider breaking them up into chunks that are more easily accomplished. Consider structuring your larger objectives into smaller goals that can be accomplished in a period of 2-4 weeks. This is a long enough period that a considerable amount of work can occur, but not so long that a team loses momentum and becomes underproductive.

Uninspiring Goals - Some goals do not support the organization’s overall vision or mission statement. If that is the case, your team will feel disconnected from the company’s objectives and remain outside the emotional center of gravity of the company. Make sure your goal aligns with the direction of your company. Your team will accomplish more, and they will feel a more meaningful connection with the organization and its vision.

Unchallenging – Your teams want to be challenged, they want to grow, and they want to develop. Unchallenging goals leave teams feeling underutilized and underdeveloped. Establish reasonable goals that allow for that development, and provide a challenge to be conquered! Your teams will feel all the better for accomplishing that challenging goal.

Endstate Too Vague- Unless the goal is concrete and measurable, your team may struggle to meet it. Unclear goals disorient teams and reduce teamwork because the team members pull in different directions. Not having a clear end state provides no focus area to concentrate on, and with no definitive finish line, there is no sense of accomplishment. Avoid goals that are too vague.

No Buy-in From the Team– The last thing you want to do as a leader is issue the goals to your team without their input. Increasingly, teams are cross-functional with expertise sets outside that of the leader. In these circumstances, leaders absolutely need the input of the team members to establish goals that are accomplishable, challenging, leverage the team’s cross-functional capabilities to their best advantage. Additionally, leaders who guide the goal construction, allowing teams to formulate their own goals, will have tremendous buy-in from those teams in the execution of those goals.
Now is a fantastic time to revisit your team goals. Evaluate them to ensure they are challenging, clear, inspiring and attainable. If you don’t have team goals, or need new ones having accomplished your old goals, sit down with your team and guide them through goal formulation. Then move forward together and accomplish great things!
Michael Farr, PMP, is a Chief Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and founder of He is passionate about recognition and enabling professionals to motivate their organizations through recognizing their member’s excellence. When he is not slaying dragons with his kids, he can be found at @fosterxcellence on Twitter and @fosteringexcellence on Facebook.

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