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Let Your Team Choose Their Goals

Chances are your managers dictate goals to your teams.  Allow us to turn that upside down for you.

No discussion of motivation and how it relates to a company’s success can be held without speaking of goals- but the best practice for establishing your team’s goals is up for debate.

Chances are your managers dictate deliverables and goals to your teams, and that’s just the way it’s always been and always will be.  Allow us to turn that upside down for you.

“There’s some science around the idea of selecting your own goal,” says Xceleration adviser Darryl Speach. “When a team picks the goal themselves, as opposed to having the goal put upon them, they have a very good chance of not only completing the goal but doing it faster and better.”

That science Speach refers to is a study conducted by Harvard (find it here) that outlines the advantages of allowing your team members to set their own goals.

The study leans heavily on the “expectancy-value” theory of motivation which states “people are motivated most when they believe their actions will produce positive outcomes and when they, themselves, value those outcomes.” The thrill of the challenge becomes their driving influence.

Letting your team members choose their own goals can ignite their competitive nature.

Letting your team members choose their own goals can ignite their competitive nature.

When your managers deliver goals and deadlines, your team not only may not believe those goals are realistic, they may not even know or understand the logic behind the goal. That understanding is critical to the process and makes setting clear, concise, concrete goals even more important.

“Part of the reason for the agile approach is for speed. Speed to market, speed of development,” Speach says. “So if a team is given a project, give the team three levels of when they believe they can complete the project in a proper manner. The ‘C’ level would be basic amount of time. The ‘B’ level, a little more aggressive- and then ‘A’ level which would be a really compressed time and a realistic, optimal result.”

Meet with your team when it is time to establish goals and deadlines for a project, and set a few parameters for their goals. You’ll find, Speach says, that your team will set goals that are more ambitious than you might have set yourself.  Help motivate your team by setting reward levels for each proposed deadline- each level gets its own reward value- so if they achieve the most aggressive goal they get a more substantial reward.

“People are competitive by nature,” Speach explains. “So we, as managers, can leverage that competitive nature to get them to perform better than they ever have before.”

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