Imagine what would happen if the members of a rowing team were each trying to go a different direction. Complete chaos would ensue. Energy would be wasted, team members would be frustrated, and the boat might even capsize.
The same thing happens in business when companies don’t have clearly defined, communicated, and tracked goals. Talent and resources are wasted, team members get frustrated (or just leave), and the business ultimately risks folding.
But a goal-oriented team, much like a synchronized rowing team, is a powerful force essential for high-growth companies.
As we explore this more, let’s look at what a goal-focused team actually is.
What is a goal-focused team?
Teams laser-focused on a singular goal have three characteristics in common.
- Goal-focused teams have clearly defined goals. This might be obvious, but it’s worth repeating. Everyone should have specific, measurable goals that align with one overall company goal. A great way to achieve this is to identify key metrics (with a target goal) for each person using the waterfall model.
For example, if the overall company goal is to increase monthly recurring revenue (MRR) by X% this quarter, then a marketing team KPI might be to increase trial signups by X (whatever number necessary to reach the MRR goal). Cascading the overall metric further, a content marketers goal might be to increase organic sessions by X (whatever number necessary to hit the trial signups goal).
- Goal-focused teams regularly communicate their goals. It’s not enough to set goals. Every person in your company needs to know what the goals are and how they’re progressing towards them. There are many ways this can be achieved, such as writing targets on whiteboards, using Objectives and Key Results (OKR) documents, sharing reports or live TV dashboards mounted on the wall. Keeping key metrics in front of everyone all the time and having progress constantly update are the key factors here.
- Goal-focused teams consistently track their goals. You’re only going to spur action with your goals if your team members are tracking their progress against them. When you see that you’re at 87% of your goal with just a couple days left in the month, it’s easier to give the extra effort needed to reach 100%. Or if you’ve exceeded your goal before the end of the month, you’ll know to set more aggressive goals for next month. Tracking goals sparks action and collaboration as team members rally to reach the target.
Benefits of a goal-focused team
The best part of goal-oriented teams is their impact on company growth. Here are a few specific benefits of having a unified, goal-driven team.
More goals achieved - As we all know, big milestones in business aren’t the result of luck. They’re the result of intentional, relentless effort. When you set objectives, a goal-oriented team finds a way to get it done. They believe that they’re capable of achieving it, even if they don’t exactly know how at first. This isn’t to say every single goal will be met within the original deadline or at all. But by focusing on one overall goal at a time, a focused team will achieve more because they’re committed to making it work.
Better team collaboration - Much like a rowing team, the only way to achieve your company goal is for everyone to work together. Having a singular focus transforms arguments into constructive conversations on how to actually solve the problem and achieve the goal. Instead of an ‘us versus them’ mentality, the team knows they’re all in it together. Their motto is “how can we make it work?”
Increased productivity - A recent study shows that employees are more productive when key metrics are openly shared throughout the company. Combined with the positive impact of tracking goals (and individual performance toward the goals), team members are incentivized and empowered to improve their performance. This is why individual metrics and goals are critical. When each person ‘owns’ part of the success of the organization, s/he is more committed and motivated to do their best work.
“To accomplish anything, we have to believe we’re up to the challenge. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or that we even know how we’re going to accomplish it. Usually, we don’t know. It just means we believe we’re capable.” - Michael Hyatt, New York Times bestselling author and virtual mentor
Building goal-oriented teams
Do you want these benefits at your company? Want to achieve your high-growth goals? You can start today by setting objectives and key results that keep your team focused and moving in the same direction. It takes commitment and persistence, but the rewards are worth it.