I. Team Goals
Teamwork: What Must Go Right, What Can Go Wrong Carl E. Larson
and Frank M. J. Lafasto list "a clear, elevating goal" as
its first characteristic of effective teams. Larson and LaFasto write that
a high performance team has both a clear understanding of the goal, and a
goal that embodies a worthwhile or important (elevating) result (27).
are ineffective due to something related to the goals. This could be
because: 1) goals are unfocused, 2) goals are politicized, 3) lost
significance/urgency of goals, 4) goal dilution, and 5) individual goals
have taken priority over team goals
A clear and elevating goal is characterized its two
elements; 1) the goal is clear and, and 2) the goal is elevating. Goal
clarity means that there is a specific performance objective, phrased in
such a way that there is no doubt whether or not it has been reached. A
goal that is elevating is personally challenging to individuals and/or
group by stretching mental and/or physical limits (31), and has a sense of
urgency because the objective makes a difference and provides opportunity to
Teams That are Ineffective
When a team is
ineffective, ask yourself "What is the team elevating above the performance
objective?" You might find one of these for answers to that question: 1)
politics, 2) personal agenda, 3) worry about promotions, 4) mistrust, 5)
who's in charge, 6) autocratic, 7) personal vs. team objectives, and 8)
what's in it for me.
II. What Makes Good Goals?
An objective is a clear statement of what could and
should be. An objective must have a compelling quality (Francis 97). A
goal is a statement of results to be achieved (Maddux 36). Jessup calls
goals incremental, short term steps toward realizing a vision. "A set of
viable goals," writes Jessup, "may be viewed as a pivotal way station on
the road from expectations to results" (67).
Hersey and Blanchard use the acronym SMART to give
five important attributes of goals (382):
Hoevemeyer also has five attributes of goals which are
similar to Hersey and Blanchard's (Hoevemeyer 1993) :
Francis and Young's five attributes of goals
(Improving Work Groups: A Practical Manual for Team Building) are system
oriented, giving both what goes into goals and what can be expected from
1. Achievable and Important
3. Broad at first, then
4. Do not destroy creativity
5. Help to understand and
Maddux (36) writes that goals communicate important
information to teams. This information includes:
1. Conditions to be met
2. Time frame
3. Needed Resources
Jessup (67) writes that goals must be measurable:
1. Goals must be timely
2. Goals are used for
corrective action, not for historical data
3. Goals compare current
performance with norms and trends
4. Goals must compare basic,
business focused mission
III. Team Oriented Goals
There has been a great deal of literature written about
goal setting specifically for teams. This literature gives the definition
of goals, the important elements of goals, and what the leader can to do use
goals to improve team effectiveness.
Shonk (1982) gives four attributes of team goals, which
differentiate them from individual and corporate goals. First, team goals
should require the team, because they can't be done by individuals. Second,
team goals are critical for success of the team's mission. Third, team
goals are the product of individual members' goals. Forth, team members
believe they can influence and accomplish team goals.
Jessup (65) wrote that new teams often focus inward.
The team has control, and gets quick rewards. Managers should see that
these are positive steps to improvement. Sharing goals is considered on of
the two bases for team development (along with team growth phases). Jessup
wrote that there are two types of team goals: group environment goals ( like
housekeeping); and group process goals (like meetings)
Katzenbach and Smith
The Discipline of Teams: A Mindbook-Workbook for Delivering Small Group Performance wrote that team goals are those
where the purpose belongs to team (collectively) and to team members
(individually) (The Discipline of Teams 113). These are
transformed into specific performance goals . Goals define the team, write Katzenbach and Smith,
because they differ from organization-wide goals, differ from individual
goals and require teamwork Goals facilitate clear communication, leading to
constructive conflict because clear goals facilitate discussions about
how/why to change. Attainable goals focus on getting results and have a
leveling effect, when rank, status, and personality are less important.
Katzenbach and Smith suggest small goals, because small wins lead to big
wins and this builds commitment. Goals should be compelling, for they are
symbols of accomplishment that motivate, energize, and challenge teams,
giving them a sense of urgency and fear of failure.
The Team Handbook writes that team goals are linked to mission
and larger projects (6). The team, writes Scholtes, 1) agrees on its
mission, 2) sees the mission as workable, 3) has clear vision, 4) can
progress steadily toward goals, and 5) is clear about larger project goals
Parker, in Team Players and Teamwork, writes
that team members must have a common goal, purpose, vision, or mission, and
that tasks must be interdependent.
Francis and Young (84) talk of shared team goals,
defining the following:
a. basic beliefs and values;
b. the ways in which the team
culture should be developed;
c. the outputs that are
d. the team's roles within
the larger organization;
e. Key success factors --
what the team has to do really well; and
the team will always strive to do and what it will never do.
Shonk writes that team goals are as much a task
oriented part of teams as they are behavior oriented (1982: 11) Team
oriented goals, writes Shonk, have these characteristics:
team's goals are clear, understood, and communicated to all team members;
b. team should feel
ownership of goals;
c. goals should be
d. goals should be shared;
e. team goals should not
conflict with other goals.
IV. Goal Clarity
Jessup writes that "try harder" goals are not enough.
"Sustained and substantial improvements require deliberate changes in
operating procedures," writes Jessup, "and these changes require action
planning with substance" (67).
Joy and Joy write that
Improvement Project Team goals should be written out, posted, and be clear
and objective (50). Clear, consistent, measurable goals also appear in
Teambuilt: Making Teamwork Work
as an important part of team building. Sanborn writes that team
goals should tell what, when, how well, how much, for whom the team is
working, and should have both long term goals and quick team wins (QTW)
V. Compelling Goals
Likert writes that goals should be "high enough to
stimulate each member to do his or her best, but not so high as to create
anxieties or fear of failure" (Parker 26). Hersey and Blanchard write that
goals are best if set at 50% probability of success for highest motivation.
This is because if there is a low probability of success ( at or near 0%)
there will be no motivation. On the other hand, a high probability of
success (at or near 100%) will also reduce motivation to reach the goal.
VI. Vision and Mission in Teams
"Vision is the starting point for any team"
writes Bass. "Vision is the team's overriding purpose for existence" (Bass
65). "The vision describes a target," according to Jessup, "where the team
wants to be at some future time" (67).
Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline is a best
selling current work dealing with vision. "When people truly share a
vision, they are connected," writes Senge, "bound together by a common
aspiration" (206). Senge writes that shared vision emerge from
personal visions, and that personal mastery is a "bedrock for
developing shared visions" (211). Shared vision, says Senge; 1) provides
focus and energy for learning; 2) "uplifts people's aspirations"; 3) causes
"their company" to become "our company"; 4) increases courage; 5) fosters
risk taking and experimentation; 6) increases commitment to the long-term.
Handy is another author that writes about vision (8).
Handy writes that the vision must be different --it must reframe the known
scene. The vision must make sense to others, must stretch people's
imagination, must be within the "bands of possibility", and be related to
work, and not too grand -- it must be useful. Handy says the vision must me
understandable, and that the leader must "live the vision" by exuding energy
and integrity. Vision comes from the inner belief system, according to
Handy, and the leader must remember that vision remains a dream without the
work of others.
Shonk writes that a mission determines direction and
goals, is clear and agreed upon, and provides focus for goals (66).
Hoevemeyer writes that the team mission should support the department
mission and the organization's mission, and be customer focused. "It's
easier for the team to do its job" writes Shonk, "if it knows why it is
doing the job"(69). A mission statement, says Jessup, is a "restatement of
the expectations of prime stakeholders," and describes the team's product or
service, represents the expectations of the organization, and is endorsed by
the entire team (66).