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Team Goals – It’s Not About Math, It’s About Chemistry

26 September 2008 No Comment

“Okay team, let’s get this sales meeting underway. The CEO said we need to sell a thousand widgets this year. Since there are seven of you. . .let’s see, divide by seven, round up. . . your quota is 150 each, so that’s three per week. Any questions? Now go out there and sell. And try and help each other out, too. I’ll be in my office if you need me.”

Mistake #1: this is not a team. A true team comprises complementary parts – members who have strengths that compensate for the weaknesses of others – that work together as a synchronized whole.

Mistake #2: within any group there will be variations in skills and performance. Evenly dividing the workload means you’ll get less from your high performers than you could and lose others that may be able to contribute well, albeit at a different pace.

Mistake #3: expecting people to work together in this environment. With the same product, quota, and resources, at best they may cooperate; it’s more likely that they’ll compete (or worse).

The most important thing to remember about setting team goals is that the whole team is rewarded equally if the team reaches its goal. Players on the winning team who sat on the bench for the whole game still got Super Bowl rings. This does add another element that needs to be planned and monitored in addition to watching individual performance.

Individual goals for team members are tailored to the specialties of that role and not merely a portion of an overall goal. For example, say the prospector on your team doesn’t find many opportunities, while the closer does extraordinarily well in making the sale. If the team makes the goal they share equally in that reward. However, assessments and compensation based on their individual performance will be vastly different. Those measurements and incentives are used for individual development, which ultimately helps the team.

If you have a group of similarly skilled people who do essentially the same job, like in the opening example, then goals can be apportioned as parts of a whole. Each goal may be the same type of metric and it should still be tailored to the capabilities and capacity of that individual.

What to do now:

  1. Do a realistic assessment – do you have a team or a group? They can both be viable in the right situation; they’re just managed differently.
  2. Create relevant individual goals. If you have a group, make sure the individual proportions are in line with the performance potential of each individual. If you have a team, identify the aspects of their specialty that can be measurably improved and have a positive impact on the team overall.
  3. Remember – what gets measured gets done, so be careful about what behaviours the metrics and incentives are really encouraging.

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