How to Help Team Members Set Goals, Maintain Accountability

by | 3 minute read

The new work­place is all about team lead­ers and coach­es who engage with work­ers. The old title of "boss" is fad­ing away. Some of our old prac­tices, like hov­er­ing over work­ers’ shoul­ders, should fade away too. One of the most rad­i­cal changes impact­ing orga­ni­za­tions is the mor­ph­ing of the old per­for­mance appraisal into “per­for­mance devel­op­ment.” A thought­ful post by Jim Har­ter at Gallup chal­lenges you to think about this con­cept.

The neg­a­tive aspects of the annu­al per­for­mance review are now accept­ed by most orga­ni­za­tions. That type of appraisal may have suf­ficed for fac­to­ry work­ers who rarely changed their dai­ly tasks, but today’s work­ers, espe­cial­ly high­ly skilled and trained indi­vid­u­als, may face a dif­fer­ent task every day.  They need coach­ing, train­ing and ways to track what they are doing and to stay account­able.

To help employ­ees feel more con­nect­ed to their work and moti­vat­ed to suc­ceed, your man­agers should trans­form them­selves into coach­es. In this new role, your coach­es will work with team mem­bers to estab­lish goals. Doing so, accord­ing to Gallup research, results in employ­ees who are “four times more like­ly to be engaged than oth­er employ­ees.” The prob­lem is, only 30% of cur­rent work­ers have a say in the goals that are set for them.

Goal set­ting is tough and can’t be done in a vac­u­um. As a coach, you know which objec­tives your group must achieve in the next few months, or over the course of the next year. When a team member’s desired goals don’t align with what the group needs, be pre­pared to nego­ti­ate. If a team mem­ber wants more pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, sign her up for a class that will devel­op skills to help her work more effi­cient­ly toward one of your department’s objec­tives. If anoth­er team mem­ber wants to com­plete a project which isn’t a high pri­or­i­ty for the depart­ment, set that goal as a low­er pri­or­i­ty, one he can work toward after com­plet­ing his oth­er work.

Set­ting goals isn’t enough to ensure suc­cess. Gallup research shows that touch­ing base at least once a week with each team mem­ber is a must. You don’t need to spend an hour in a 1‑on‑1 with each per­son. Nobody has time for that. Quick check-ins to ask about progress toward goals and to offer assis­tance need­ed to remove road­blocks the employ­ee is encoun­ter­ing are impor­tant. These check-ins keep every­one account­able and allow you to reset goals as nec­es­sary.

Despite the buzz about new orga­ni­za­tion­al and busi­ness mod­els, one detail about the rela­tion­ship between coach­es and team mem­bers hasn’t changed. Peo­ple appre­ci­ate hear­ing that they are meet­ing expec­ta­tions and doing a good job, so don’t skimp on say­ing thank you.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice Pres­i­dent of Research for Sales­Fu­el. She holds a Mas­ters in Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ver­mont and over­sees a staff of researchers, writ­ers and con­tent providers for Sales­Fu­el. Pre­vi­ous­ly, she was co-own­er of sev­er­al small busi­ness­es in the health care ser­vices sec­tor.