What’s the secret to setting goals for individuals?
I’ve done some reading on this topic, and the best advice I’ve heard is to establish a larger mission or a theme, so team members can easily grasp we’re all working towards. At Care Message, it’s to grow the number of patients whose health could be impacted by use of our platform.
“Everyone should have a clear understanding that every goal or metric we establish is tied very specifically to our overarching goal.”
Then we decide how we can track results. For us, it’s scalability and data integrity. Within that, there are two or three key objectives that each team or person signs up for. In the case of data integrity, for example, it might be capturing certain data on every single deal that you work going forward. We’ll measure you against that. For scalability, it might be increasing the annual contract value (ACV) by $5,000 this year. Give them some ways to think about how they would go about doing that, and then measure their ability to actually increase the dollar amount of deals. The goal-setting process we built at Care Message is a collaborative one. Everyone gives their thoughts on a goal, how it should manifest, and what specifically they will contribute. That way, the goal is one that they’ve helped create, signed off on, and will be ready to execute.
Bridget Gleason, VP of Sales at Logz.io:
“The key is making sure team members set their own goals, so they own them.”
Let’s say the company sets their quota at 100k for the month. A team member may tell me that their goal for themselves is 50k. A gap that wide requires a conversation where I help them get to a different goal. It’ll start with questions. “How will that play out for you if you hit that goal, over the month, the quarter and the year? Is that a goal that you’re going to feel good about if you achieve? Do you think the company will view that as success? ” With these questions, you can uncover what’s behind their goals. Then I tell them that before we can talk about how to get you to 100k, we need to have that as a target. I can’t make you want that as a target. If they feel like it is something that I’ve imposed on them, there’s not a good likelihood of them achieving it.
—Read more from Bridget Gleason here
“To set effective goals you have to have buy-in first. The easiest way to get buy-in is to set goals together.”
We can definitely guide team members toward goals that support team and company initiatives, but when you create goals together that’s when I’ve seen the most success in actually hitting those goals. Once you’ve done that take a step back and say, “Alright, are these realistic? Is there a quantitative way to measure our progress toward these goals?” Every quarter I have my team pull together their personal and professional goals and I try to support them, or I reach out into my network to get them help.
I put some goals in writing based on my expectations, and have them also set goals for themselves. We look at the lists side-by-side and have a healthy discussion on what the combined goal list should look like. For people who are more quota driven, we tend to look at business plans and determine quotas together. Once you have goals in place, now you know how to motivate your team members.
“Leverage other teams in goal setting, because though it starts with one or two people in a room, you often have to involve field operations and the finance team at some point. The more people you can get on board early, the better it is for the solidity of the goals.”
If there are any changes or fluctuations that happen down the road, everyone is already up to speed and feels ownership over those goals.
I break goal setting down into five parts. First, limit the number of goals you set. It’s difficult to focus on more than about 5 at any given time. Complex lists with several goals under each section is a recipe for losing focus and slowing progress. You should be able to repeat your goals from memory.
“I believe in smart goals, meaning they must be specific, realistic, actionable, date-bound and measurable. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
Every goal really should start with something like an action verb like run, eliminate, finish, quit versus a go-to verb like am, be, have. A good goal should stretch you to the edge of your comfort zone and then step over it. If I’m not out of my comfort zone, then I don’t really think I’m thinking big enough with goals. Third, it’s important to simply write it down, even if you don’t include an action plan. This is really critical. When you’re writing something down, you’re actually stating your intention and setting things in motion for yourself. I literally make the team write their goals down, print it out and frame it on their desk, so that it was in front of them every day. Fourth, review them frequently. When you review your goals, you need to ask yourself what’s the next step I need to take really to move forward with this goal. I’ve always been a proponent of sharing your goals, especially with people who are going to help you accomplish your goals. It creates this accountable structure for achieving your goals where people can follow up with you and also help you achieve your goals together.
I have significantly less influence over revenue goals than a sales manager or an account executive. I have more control over expectations around what we would deliver. I think about goals not in terms of revenue, but what do the account managers deliver the clients, what are they both on the hook for, and what does success look like. I think that’s where I can have more influence. Don’t get too rigorous about identifying the tasks that an account manager is responsible for, it’s much more useful from a strategy standpoint to give them an objective like, “Your goal is to maximize the success of your client against whatever KPI you set and to organize your time across your book to maximize revenue.” Get them really centered on their strategic objective and then let them choose the set of activities that align with it.
“Consider the difference between treating somebody like a private or treating them like a sergeant. You’re going to tell a private, ‘Move this ten yards to that location. Stand there. Now move there. Shoot in this direction,’ and you’re going to tell a sergeant, ‘Hey, you need to take this hill.’ Then they find the best way there.”
The more I was able to offer autonomy, people really responded well to that.
What’s the secret to setting goals for teams?
“The secret to team goal setting is to make goals achievable and attach a team reward. In the past, we’ve done team events like screen printing, taken cooking classes and done wine tasting. Anything that the team does together is just another bonding experience.”
You can do it after hours or during the workday, which has the added benefits of everyone being available and it feeling like a treat. Make goals very clear, so that team members know what they’re expected to do. Communicate goals often and be as transparent as possible, tracking progress through the CRM and with verbal communication.
“Team goals require you to take a more active role because they’ll be giving the team direction.”
You’re steering them toward a number they’ll be pushing for this quarter or a strategic project that the team will be working on. Still, everyone needs to feel like they have some skin in the game and that they’re able to contribute to the goals. With four distinct roles under me, setting these team goals can be a little tricky. How can one create goals in a such a way that everyone feels as if they can move us toward success? That’s something that, as a sales leader, you need to figure out. In this current role I receive a number from above, and the rest is up for me to solve.
Like with individual goals, the more I can bring the team into the process of setting team goals, the more likely it is that they’ll own and achieve them. If it feels like the numbers are coming down from on high, it’s more likely they’ll resent our goals or view them as unrealistic.
“Rather than dictate goals, you’re trying to move what they believe they can do closer to what the company believes they can do.”
When I talk to the team about what numbers we should commit to, it’s a very similar sort of conversation as it is with individual goals. What do we want, as a team, to be our goal? How do we want the rest of the organization to view us? How do we want to be known?”
—More from Bridget Gleason
Team members should contribute their thoughts on goals, but my job as the leader is to point the team toward specific things that need to improve, and make sure our goals aren’t arbitrary. I might look at the business and know that we need to grow our customers by x amount over the course of the quarter, and I know that we’re short by 50% on the leads we’ll need to reach that goal. So our goal would be to close that gap on leads. Define the ways you can achieve that — do more outbound, define a referral strategy, whatever else. And finally, decide how progress will be measured.
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