We need to define and measure our most important goals.

A parent tells their kids, “I have a family goal for this year: We’re going to go on a vacation.” When the kids ask “Where,” the parent says, “Oh, I don’t know. But we’ll go someplace.” It’ll be hard for the kids to get excited without defining what that vacation looks like.

If the parent says, “We’re flying to Disney World and will spend five days there,” the kids know exactly what’s coming. They’re excited, and they start thinking and planning for the trip.

Team goals are like that. Generic goals don’t motivate anyone. Their energy rises when they know two things:

  1. The exact details of the goal (definition)
  2. Where are we in relation to reaching the goal (measurement)

Defining the goal

The simple definition of a goal is “Something you want to achieve.” Defining the goal is a strategic process of deciding precisely which goal to choose and what it will accomplish.

Start by asking your own leaders what’s important to them moving forward. That provides the context for determining a team goal that will fit into that vision. Then, present your findings to your team as they begin to collaborate towards a goal they can feel ownership of. Explain the “Why” of upper management’s goals and as much detail as you know. Let them feel like you’re delivering the foundation, and that they have the ability to influence the formation of the goal for the team.

Hold “Listening sessions” where you ask questions and let your group share their thoughts. You’re only capturing their ideas at this point, not adding your own. Ask clarifying questions to explore deeper, and make sure you get the thinking of everyone in the group. For quieter people, give them the chance to process after the meeting and email you their unique thoughts.

Together, create a goal that’s simple and memorable.

Measuring the goal

When a commercial pilot flies a plane to Paris, that’s the goal. How will they know if they were successful? They’ll see the Eiffel Tower.  

But they can’t just aim the plane and nap through the flight. Because of wind and other forces taking them off course, they’re constantly measuring progress against the goal to see if mid-course corrections are needed.

Those types of corrections are critical for any goal as well. Make sure your team has created measurable goals which are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Then on a regular basis, pull the group together to see if you’re still on track, using benchmarks you’ve decided on ahead of time.

Hold regular team accountability sessions—a 15-minute session that has only one purpose: Visibility of commitments. Each person shares:

  • The one thing they committed to do in the last meeting.
  • How they did on that commitment (no explanation or justification, just facts).
  • What they are committing to do next week.

Make it a safe place to share, and don’t discuss anything else. Those meetings will become quick, powerful tools for strategic alignment and staying focused.

Once the goal has been reached, find ways to let the team see the outcomes of their work. Bring in clients to share their stories or even take a field trip to their location to experience it first-hand.

That’s the way to define and measure goals—in a way that makes your team feel like they’re going to Disney World!