RALLYING YOUR TEAM AROUND A GOAL
Executive Summary: Setting and rallying your team around a goal, then accomplishing it, is one of the things you absolutely must do in order to bring out the best in your team. Goals need to be SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, time-sensitive. Follow the 8 step process to achieve your goals and fulfil you vision. The results are just too significant to ignore!
A White Paper – by Jon Denney
If you were to ask each person that works at your company, “What is our company goal?” how many different answers do you think you’d get?
If the answer is, “more than one,” or, “we don’t have a company goal,” then you have a big opportunity in front of you!
Whenever a team of people is expected to work together in synchronicity and to give their best individual efforts toward “success,” then success needs to be clearly defined. Otherwise, each individual is forced to rely on his or her individual perception of what defines success.
Think about that for a minute. If I were to ask you to define what success means to each of your individual team members, could you do it? Not without guessing you couldn’t, unless, of course, they specifically told you how they define it.
The same is true with your employees. They can’t possibly know how you define success unless you clearly define it for them.
Okay, let’s back up a minute to define what is required in order for you to have a goal. First of all, a goal must be valuable. That’s obvious. It also has to be attainable. If your objective is so far out of reach that it’s impossible, it’s not a goal; it’s just hype.
A goal also has to be measurable. In other words, you can’t use platitudes. For example, to say, “Our goal is to be the best” is not a goal because it’s not measurable. How do you define what “the best” is? How do you know if you’ve achieved it? Without measurements, you can’t! To take that example a little further, if you say you have a goal to “be very profitable,” you don’t have a goal. The word “very” has different meanings to different people.
In order for your goal to be measurable, it needs to be specific and have objective metrics attached. Instead of saying, “Our goal is to be very profitable,” you would attach measurements and instead say, “Our goal is to profit $400,000.” When you do that, everyone’s clear; if you profited $399,000, you did not succeed in your goal. If you profited $400,000, you did.
So a goal needs to be valuable, attainable, and measurable. It also must be committed to memory by everyone that’s striving to reach the goal. If people can’t remember what the goal is, they certainly aren’t driven by it! If they aren’t driven by it, then why bother even having a goal?
The next ingredient for having a goal is that you must attach a date to it. In order for a goal to be real, there must be an end-date. Otherwise, there’s no sense of urgency to motivate people. If you say your goal is to “profit $400,000” that probably feels good, but it does little to inspire your troops. After all, they have forever to get that done! If you say that your goal is to “profit $400,000 this year,” then everyone’s clear; it you don’t do it this year; you didn’t reach your goal. Likewise, if you do achieve it this year; you won!
Okay, let’s recap: In order for you to have a goal, it must be valuable, attainable, measurable, committed to memory by everyone that’s going after the goal, and you must have an end-date, or date of attainment. Now there’s just one more ingredient in order for you to have a true goal. Here it is: Every single person going after the goal must have a burning desire to achieve it. Let that sink in for a minute. I didn’t say that everyone hopes to hit the goal, or that people really want to hit the goal; I said, “People have to have a burning desire to achieve it.”
So there they are; all of the ingredients necessary to have a true goal: It must be (1) valuable, (2) attainable, (3) measurable, (4) committed to memory by everyone that’s going after the goal, (5) it must have an end date to determine whether or not the goal was achieved and (6) everyone must have a burning desire to achieve the goal.
If any of your existing goals do not contain all of these elements, then you really don’t have a goal; you have a “hope.” There is little power behind hope as compared to the power you can derive from a true goal.
So here’s your first action step: If you already have what you thought was a company goal, but it doesn’t contain all the elements of a true goal, then you need to adjust it so that it does. If you’re hung up on the “burning desire” element of a goal, I understand. How are you supposed to instill a burning desire in all of your people, even if you already have it yourself? I get it. Please stay with me; we’ll get there.
If you’re a person that currently doesn’t have any specified goals, then you absolutely need to create one.
Listen, human nature is not driven by whatever the wind may bring. We’re instinctively programmed with a certain degree of competitiveness in our spirits. That’s a wonderful thing and you need to tap into that power. As a great leader, you have to facilitate the creation of goals with your team. They need goals in order to give their best. They need to give their best in order for them to rise above mediocrity and have passion in their work.
This isn’t hype, folks; this is real and it’s very important.
If you’re the type of person that thinks that goal setting is a bunch of hype, let me tell you unequivocally: true goals work.
If you’ve set goals in the past and they haven’t worked out for you, the first thing I want you to do is to honestly ask yourself if your goals were valuable, attainable, measurable, committed to memory with a date of achievement and a burning desire to achieve them? If they fit all those criteria and you still fell short, I want you to ask yourself a couple more questions: Where do you think you would have ended up if you hadn’t had the advantage of being driven by that goal? Do you think your results would have been as good? In the end of it all, was your goal really a waste of time, or did you benefit from it even while not necessarily achieving it?
I think if you’re honest in your answers, you now see the power in having true goals. The art of setting a true goal will never guarantee victory. But what it does guarantee is that you’ll be much better off in the end with a true goal than if you never set a goal at all. Furthermore, when you’re team goes after a goal together, the bonding and ingenuity that takes place is far better than if you never had a goal to begin with; even if you don’t actually hit your objective.
There’s an old saying; “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there!” That’s exactly right. And if your individual team members, also known as “people” are all taking their own roads, then you cannot possibly have synchronicity. You have fragmentation which will lead to conflicts which will lead to drama, turnover, wasted time, money, and opportunity, and all the other garbage that business owners resent.
Before I continue, I hope you don’t mind if I just keep things honest with a reality check. If your business has conflict, drama, turnover, wasted time, money, and opportunity, then you have nobody to blame but yourself and I guarantee you don’t have a true goal that everyone is rallied around; a goal that’s valuable, attainable, measurable, committed to memory by everyone, a date of achievement, and everyone having a burning desire to achieve it. If that’s you, please stay with me because you can fix it.
The most challenging thing to do is to rally a group of different people around the same goal. What’s valuable to one person may not be valuable enough to another to have a burning desire to achieve it. So how do you, as the top leader in your company, get your entire team rallied around a single, meaningful, true goal?
You must do these eight things:
- Involve the team in the process.
- Make sure they know what’s in it for them (rewards).
- Once everyone buys into the goal, make it the standard; if people don’t own it, they don’t belong on your team.
- Lead by example with your own commitment and enthusiasm.
- Invest time teaching people how to win.
- Keep a scoreboard and talk about it all the time.
- Set stepping stone goals (guideposts) along the way and celebrate each win as they happen.
- Keep your word and pay up!
Let’s briefly cover each of those eight necessities in getting everyone on your team rallied around the same goal.
The first requirement is to involve the team in the process. That means, get them involved in deciding on the actual, true goal. Don’t just dictate a goal to them. This will require you to be candid with everyone regarding the state of your company. By sharing the realities in your company with your team, you can lead them, rather than dictate to them, in creating a goal that is truly meaningful to you, your company and to your team.
As you’re working with your team to nail down a goal that is meaningful to everyone, you need to make sure that each of your team members knows what’s in it for them to achieve it. I’m talking about rewards! If in reaching your goal, you personally win and your company as a whole wins, that’s great. But if you don’t allow each person on your team to personally win as well, then the burning desire to achieve it just won’t be where it needs to be. That’s fair. So tie meaningful rewards to achieving the goal so that everyone has skin in the game. In doing this, you’ll not only motivate people to give their personal best efforts in achieving the goal; you’ll simultaneously create a culture where team members will hold each other accountable to giving their best, too. After all, they know what’s in it for them and they’re not going to idly sit by and watch other people blow it for them!
Once you and your team create your company goal, and once everyone knows what’s in it for them to win, you have to make sure everyone “owns” the goal. Let them know right from the start that your intention is for the team to win and for everyone to earn the rewards. Let them know that you are deeply committed to this and you expect the same from them. Make sure everyone knows that you plan to cater to the people that are equally as committed to it as you are. Then; follow through. If and when anyone on your team seems to have lost the passion for the goal, or has slipped back into their old ways, you have to immediately address it with them. Do everything you can to coach them back into line. If you find yourself continually frustrated by the same person that doesn’t seem to be engaged in reaching your goal, then you have a responsibility to protect the other team members from this person’s lack of commitment. Remember, if you can’t change your people; change your people with other people who share your vision.
Now let’s talk about you. You’re the leader, or the head of the organization. If you want your team to honestly and vigorously go after a goal together, then you have to lead by example with your own self-commitment and enthusiasm. If your team thinks you’ve abandoned the goal, they’ll abandon it, too. You can never expect anyone on your team to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself. Even though you’re the boss, you lose all moral-authority if you don’t lead by example. The best leaders already know this, though, so I’m probably just preaching to the choir! Just make sure you show your excitement in doing the things necessary to reach your goal. Talk about the goal frequently and passionately and give your personal best efforts every single day.
Personal commitment and burning desire are necessary when going after a true goal. But beyond that, you also have to make sure that your team knows how to win! It’s your job to make sure that happens. For example, if your company’s true goal is to “Increase net profits by 7% this calendar year over last calendar year,” then you have to make sure everyone knows how to increase net profits. You may think it’s obvious to everyone, and you can even be sure that everyone knows some of the ways to increase net profits, but there will be few people on your team that know all the ways to increase net profits at your company. You need to teach them. Have staff meetings where the agenda is to identify all of the ways your team can increase net profits. Talk about individual accountability and discipline, efficiencies, reducing waste, increasing pricing, not having to re-run projects or give them away for free. Talk about smarter purchasing and better negotiating. Talk about how much money it costs your company when a fifteen minute break turns into twenty minutes; or a half hour lunch turns into forty minutes! Talk about proper maintenance of your equipment. Talk about taking care of supplies and keeping an organized work place. Talk about everything you and your team can think of to increase profits by 7% by the end of the year so that everyone can enjoy the rewards that come with that! I’m not talking about a single staff meeting. I’m talking about allocating a portion of every staff meeting to brainstorming, discussing, and teaching ways to win the game. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. You have to make sure your people know how to win; otherwise, their good intentions just won’t be enough to get you to where you all want to be.
Okay, you involved your team in the process of setting the goal. You attached rewards to reaching the goal and everyone has skin in the game. You’ve committed yourself to holding everyone accountable for their best efforts and you’re leading by example with your own commitment and enthusiasm. On top of that, you’re providing ongoing training to teach your team how to accomplish the goal. Now, you need a scoreboard!
Everyone on your team needs to know where the team stands relative to the goal at all times. Using the example goal of “increasing net profits by 7% this calendar year over last year,” the scoreboard could be a posting of monthly net profits vs. same time period last year, as well as year-to-date net profits vs. last year-to-date net profits. By doing this, people (including you) will know whether you’re on track to achieve the goal or whether you need to make additional adjustments to get on track.
In addition to the scoreboard, you should also brainstorm with your team the reasons you’re either on track or off track. Talk about the specific improvements your team has made that has favourably affected the scoreboard. Conversely, have candid discussions with them about the things that are holding your team back from being on track. This goes back to teaching your team how to win.
Keeping a scoreboard is critical for you and your team to have more control over reaching your goal. Without one, you’re all hoping you win in the end, but as you know, there’s little power behind a hope – so keep score!
A great way to keep people engaged in reaching the goal is to provide the opportunity for small wins and celebrations along the way. You should set stepping-stone goals or guidepost goals and reward your team when they hit them. Your guidepost goals, using the above example goal of increasing net profits by 7% this calendar year over last year, could be to give quarterly rewards if the quarter is 7% more profitable than the same time-period last year. Or, you could set guidepost goals that focus more on activity rather than just the result.
For example, if your team determined that they have an opportunity to reduce labor costs in their pursuit of increasing net profits by 7%, then you could use your company’s labor ratio (total labor costs divided by total sales revenue) as a guidepost goal. If they can reduce the labor ratio by X% each fiscal quarter over last year, then they win the guidepost goal and they get rewarded. The biggest rewards come when the actual goal is met, but smaller rewards are provided when the guidepost goals are hit. I know this is obvious to you, but I’ll say it anyway: If people can taste victory along the way, they’ll stay involved because they want to taste it even more. Please make sure you provide them those opportunities.
Finally, we come to the end. In the example goal we’ve discussed, it’s the end of the year and the results are in: You won! Now it’s time to pay up! I’m not talking about burying the reward inside everyone’s paycheck; I’m talking about a dramatic presentation of bonus checks in a celebratory environment. As you’re making the reward presentations, use it as an opportunity to teach people some more. Talk about what each person did, specifically, to help your team win. Talk about the things the company did together that made this celebration and the rewards come to fruition. You’ve probably seen a final World Series game in baseball or a Super Bowl in football. What happens when the team wins? They celebrate! Champagne is flowing and in the interviews you’ll hear the players and the coaches’ talk about how they won. They talk about what they did well but they also talk about what they need to improve on in the off-season! What you may not know is that each player and coach on the winning team is also the recipient of a large bonus check! It all has to be there: celebration, an after-action analysis of what went right and what can be improved next year, and the money!
And there you have it. A goal is valuable, attainable, measurable, committed to memory by everyone involved, a date of attainment, and a burning desire to achieve it. It is supported initially by involving the team in setting the goal so they have ownership in it. You attached rewards to winning and everyone knows what the rewards are. You held everyone accountable to staying engaged in the game and doing the things necessary to win. You led by example and were personally committed to winning and were enthusiastic about it. You took the time to teach your people how to reach the goal and you set guidepost goals along the way that provided both benchmarks and small tastes of victory. You kept a scoreboard and you talked about things in real-time with your team. If necessary, you made adjustments along the way to better align your team with the goal. Finally, you provided a celebration when you won, along with a dramatic and meaningful award presentation and a candid after-action review of what you did extremely well that allowed you to win, and some of the things you can work on next year to increase your net profits even more.
If you’re overwhelmed by how much is required in order to first set a true goal and then to keep everyone engaged in achieving it; don’t be. You won’t be able to do it alone, so don’t even try! Include your executive team and make sure they all lead by example as well. Once everyone knows that you’re serious about winning, they’ll either join you or they’ll get out of your way either by their choice or yours.
Here’s one more tip, and then we’ll end. When your team is setting goals, don’t allow the goals to be too easy to hit. Easy goals are worthless. Yes, they need to be attainable, but they need to be challenging. If you set a goal too low, you’ll actually insult your superstars. If you set it too high, nobody will want to play. You have to make sure it’s just right!
None of this is easy and it does time, effort, and passion. But you can do it.
Review / Action Steps
Set a true-goal and go for it! Please remember to do the following:
Involve your team in the process.
Make sure everyone knows what’s in it for them (rewards).
Once everyone buys into the goal, make it the standard; if people don’t own it, they don’t belong on your team.
Lead by example with your own commitment and enthusiasm.
Invest time teaching people how to win.
Keep a scoreboard and talk about it all the time.
Set stepping stone goals (guideposts) along the way and celebrate each win as they happen.
Keep your word and pay up!
If you want to improve your company with lasting transformation, there are a lot of things you need to do. Setting a true goal and then rallying your team around accomplishing it is one of the things you absolutely must do in order to bring out the best in your team.
If your goal is meaningful, and if you tackle it with vigor and enthusiasm, it will do much to bring unity and synchronicity to your team. It can also be a lot of fun for everyone.
Before we end this chapter, I want to share with you one of the big mistakes I personally made as a business owner. I used to have too many major goals going at the same time.
One year, my company had six true-goals that we were going after- all at the same time! Yes, they were all valuable, attainable, and measurable, but they weren’t committed to memory! Most people could rattle off three, four, or even five of them, but nobody –including me- could remember all six without looking at our notes! So much for “burning desire!” My over-ambition turned out to be counterproductive. There was no focus and we ended up missing every single goal we set; all six.
In our after-action-review, everyone said what I was already thinking: There were too many things to focus on at one time and it just caused confusion.
The following year, we had a single goal to go after; and it was a big one. We were all laser focused on it and we talked about it all the time. We trained the ways to achieve it. We had guidepost goals along the way. We made signs and hung them all over our facilities. Everyone was playing to win, and we did win. As a result, our small business paid out over $80,000 in bonuses that year.
Our celebration was a blast! Our individual team members were rewarded nicely, and our team as a whole grew closer through the experience. From that year on, we only had one goal per year that we went after. We called it our “Annual Solid Intention.”
I encourage you to learn from my mistake. Simple is better. Laser focus is required if you’re going to meet challenging goals.
Please; make sure you own the processes outlined in the white paper and put them to use in your own business. If you can commit to this for one full year, I guarantee you’ll never go another day without having a true-goal to go after. The results are just too significant to ignore!
I wish you all the best.
Jon Denney PBCA
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