Six months ago, I officially started working with a new team. In reality, I have been working with them for two years, but I wasn’t part of the team on paper, so I didn’t have the opportunity to attend administrative meetings or other team building sessions.
At the first meeting of my peer group, I expected to listen to a routine status update and set of administrative reminders. I was instead blown away by the request for each team member to share their annual goals with the group. It sounds like a basic concept, but the idea of sharing my goals with my peers had not occurred to me, even though it made perfect sense. How could we work together effectively if we didn’t understand what each of us were striving to do? I quickly adopted this practice with my own team. Here are some of the reasons that teams should adopt community goal setting:
Better performance. If everyone on the team knows what everyone else is trying to achieve, it makes the team perform better. For example, if I know that my colleague is focused on expanding their qualifications in a specific domain, I can direct these types of requests to that colleague in the future. This helps each of us focus on the areas in which we have an interest, rather than simply allowing the first person that receives the request to deal with it. It also helps team members that have similar goals work together to achieve them.
Enhanced communication. If two people are vying for the same role, bringing this conflict to light can be awkward, which is why managers and teams may understandably shy away from it. Yet, ignoring the conflict makes it worse. When one person inevitably succeeds, it can feel like it’s at the other person’s expense. Knowing that both people want the same thing can help the team figure out a way to accommodate this shared interest. Perhaps the person who doesn’t get the role can be gradually transitioned to a new project, where they can achieve the same level of success. Perhaps the team can identify an alternative role for them that is equally satisfying. Failing to have the conversation prevents you from proactively taking measures to address the issue. Waiting until one person receives the promotion is typically too late.
Improved trust. Describing to your peers what you are trying to accomplish professionally is likely unprecedented for most people, who are used to confiding only in their boss and perhaps a job interviewer about where they see themselves in five years. We had to trust each other not to use the information to undermine or impede someone else’s progress for the sake of our own. It also made us feel more human. Nobody in that group was perfect, and everyone had an area that demanded personal growth. I found it encouraging to hear what each of us wanted to do to continue to learn.
Increased accountability. There are competing schools of thought about whether sharing your goals with others helps you achieve them. In some cases, it can discourage motivation. In other cases, it can give you the push you need to succeed. Telling our peers what we wanted to do by the end of the year was a humbling experience. What if we didn’t reach our goals? Now, everyone would know. This knowledge has continued to push me to work harder. It also reminds me that, if I change my goals, I need to update the group on my new priorities.
If you end up trying community goal setting, let me know in the comments whether it worked for your team!