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A Goal Systems Primer for Modern Teams. Importance of Goal Tracking

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Aditya Rao
August 2, 2021

As a team leader, one of the most important things you can do is set a number of different types of goals and put them into action. The various types of goals include personal goals, daily goals, avoidance goal and so on, but most importantly these must be attainable goals.

It is equally important to timely check whether individuals and teams are able to understand these goals in order to work towards them as well as check the progress on goals.

How to get your team to work towards the companies goals?

As a team leader, you would have definitely Googled “how to align my team on goals” at least once in your life. An aligned team is one that has a common vision, understands the objectives, and knows how to contribute their own abilities to those objectives.

Employees will not only be aligned with the organization, but also engaged in their work, if they understand what is expected of them, how their work fits into the big picture, and have the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Employees at all levels must be aware of and aligned on their company's ultimate objectives in order to succeed in today's ever changing economy.

Furthermore, those goals must be translated( goal conversion) so that employees can recognize and relate to them as they go about their daily tasks, resulting in increased engagement and the ability to adjust to changes on short notice.

Choosing the right methodology for setting up goals and goal tracking can be a daunting task, so here is a quick peek into that world.

Below are some popular wide range of methodology that have been described with an example and scenario where that approach will work best!

1. OKRs

Meaning:

Before directly jumping into the popular methodology, it is necessary to understand what each of these concepts want to convey.

The term "OKRs" stands for "Objectives and Key Results." It's a goal-setting tool for teams and individuals that helps them develop tough, ambitious goals with measurable outcomes. OKRs are a way to keep track of progress, build alignment, and encourage participation in measurable goals.

OKRs should be quantitative, adaptable, open, and aspiring in order to support a goal or vision. They're also usually set by management, and they're never linked to pay or performance evaluations.

Finally, OKRs assist firms in setting ambitious goals and then focusing on reaching them over the course of a quarter.

Purpose:

They are the same for creating goals at all levels of a firm. They can also be used for personal purposes, and individuals can use them to get things done in places where senior leadership does not.

This is one of the most popular goal tracking systems these days and was pioneered by Google (via Intel). It does a good job of taking up strategy and breaking it down into executable, trackable tasks. 

  • O - Objectives (e.g. I want to increase our product’s revenue)
  • KR - Key Results (e.g. I will get 2 lakhs INR of new clients and my lead to conversion ratio will be 30%)

Drawback:

OKRs aren't always worth the trouble, especially if your company is small or medium-sized. They actually require good training sessions throughout your organization, ongoing evaluation, and a commitment to see the performance review process through to completion.

The days of training leads to unnecessary wastage of time and resources, which small and medium sized companies cannot afford. 

While this is great for large teams with well-defined goals and direction, it is not recommended for young early-stage startups.

2. KRAs

Meaning:

This stands for Key Result Areas and is again a good setup to align your people with the larger goal. Key Responsibility Areas, or KRAs, are based on a person's job description and are used to allocate duties that they are expected to do.

Employees are completely accountable for the KRAs that have been assigned to them. KRAs are part of a bigger picture. As a content writer, for example, your KRA would be to create content that performs and ranks highly.

This methodology does a good job of explaining things in plain language without metrics and jargon e.g. 

  • For a software engineer - launch new features on time
  • For an email marketer - improve the hits on the website from email campaigns

Purpose:

Your Key Result Areas serve as important success criteria for your firm as a leader. They increase team communication, clarify ongoing tasks, and communicate updated plans to all personnel, ensuring that they are aligned with the company's goals.

Because they are focused on your key performance indicators, these KRA-centered methods keep you and your team focused on long-term goals and offer you with a set of operational objectives that lead to sustainable growth.

This approach is ideal for companies with multi-skilled teams and a large number of experienced employees. KRAs eliminate the need for micromanagement and daily check-ins because everyone understands the aim and their role in attaining it.

Drawback:

KRAs have a few drawbacks, one of which being the difficulty in determining simple metrics and that these tend to be non-actionable and quantifiable. How much web traffic should I aim for? How many features do I need to launch at what time?

So It is recommended combining them with the SMART method which is outlined below

3. SMART goals

Meaning:

Many of us are aware of the power of SMART goal-setting (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). The presence of an effective goal-setting process is found to have a substantial association with a company's financial performance.

Whichever method you choose, I think it’s a good idea to keep in mind that your goal must be - 

  • S — Specific ( A precise, extremely specified objective should be included in the goal. Your goal will not be SMART if it is too general.)
  • M — Measurable ( you must be able to precisely track your progress in order to determine when a goal will be achieved.)
  • A — Achievable ( Setting an overly ambitious aim will make it difficult to achieve. This will deplete ones motivation in the short and long term.)
  • R — Relevant ( The objective you choose should be relevant to your chosen field or directly benefit you.)
  • T — Time-bound ( Setting a timeline for the objective helps teams quantify it and keep focus on track.)

So instead of saying you want to increase your app traffic, you would say something like “I want to increase my app’s website visits from email campaigns to 3000 per day. It’s currently averaging at 2500 per day. I will hit my goal in one month”.

Purpose:

SMART is a powerful tool that helps you achieve your objectives by providing clarity, focus, and motivation. It can also help you achieve them by pushing you to establish your goals and set a deadline for completing them.

SMART goals can also be used by anybody, anywhere, with no specific equipment or training required.

Drawback:

Due to the various interpretations of SMART, it can lose its usefulness or be misinterpreted. Some argue that SMART is ineffective for long-term goals due to its lack of flexibility, while others argue that it restrains creativity.

4. KPIs

Meaning:

This one stands for Key Performance Indicators. It is usually practiced a lot in consulting and analytics teams.

KRAs are a subset of KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators. This would imply that a person's performance would be judged on the basis of the data presented. KPIs can be measured precisely.

Following up on the previous example, a content writer's KPI would be if one of their company's features or articles ranks in the top three search results.

It does a fantastic job of quantifying everything your team might be doing and it’s a great way to get a picture of current performance. A salesperson might have the following KPIs:

  • Total pipeline value
  • Inbound leads per day 
  • Qualified leads: Paid conversion %
  • Sales target & done %
  • Average sales cycle time / TAT

At any point in time, the person should have a handle on the current status.

Purpose:

KPIs may help you figure out if your organization is on course for success—and, if it isn't, where you should focus your efforts. Any KPI, regardless of what it measures, aims to improve performance and identify areas where KPI goals are not being met.

Additionally, today's financial analysts want to invest more effort in developing frameworks for monitoring results in the form of KPIs and using these KPIs to guide course correction to improve business performance.

Drawback:

One disadvantage of KPIs is that they might not always provide meaningful information right away. Training KPIs, on the other hand, do not reveal team transformations in a single day.

Depending on your goal(s) and how frequently you track employee training KPIs, it could take a few months before you notice benefits.

Another drawback is that KPIs are useful for accomplishing short-term objectives, and may prove to be disastrous in achieving long-term objectives. 

5. MBO

Meaning:

It stands for Management by Objectives and was popularized by Peter Drucker’s leadership work at GE. Leadership focuses on what employees are achieving vs how they are achieving it. There are a lot of exercises done on getting buy-ins from everyone on these goals and objectives! These processes and meetings can sometimes take months though, and they overshadow actual execution.

The practice of setting top corporate goals and using them to determine employee goals is known as MBO. MBO methods are designed to establish an employee's primary goals, which are then rated using group feedback.

As they carry out their activities, this allows all company contributors to see their successes in relation to the firm's key priorities, reinforcing alignment between action and outcome, which boosts productivity substantially.

Purpose:

MBO measures a company's and its workers' performance against a set of quantitative or objective parameters. Managers can identify problem areas and increase efficiency by comparing actual productivity to a set of criteria. These standards and objectives are known and agreed upon by both management and employees.

Employees take joy in their work and set goals they know they can attain as a result of the rewards. Employees' abilities, skills, and educational experiences are also aligned. Management and staff communication improves as a result of MBO.

Drawback:

Subordinates may oppose Management by Objectives (MBO). When creating goals and objectives, they may be under pressure to get along with management, and these targets may be set unrealistically high. This may reduce their morale, and they may develop doubts about MBO's concept.

Conclusion:

Regardless of which method you use, the main conclusion is that performance can only be improved by measuring and reviewing it. You're missing out on a great opportunity to learn and develop if you don't take the time to set targets, or if you do but don't assess them at the end of the year/quarter.

Hope these were useful! But honestly, the best goal tracking system is the one that works for you. It’s exactly like project management systems. And maybe a simple excel sheet or google sheets with weekly reviews is working well; please continue using that. 

Frequently asked question ( FAQ )

1. What are the benefits of goal tracking?

It's essential to track goal progress after corporate objectives have been properly defined. When a company keeps track of its objectives, it's much easier to see if everything is on track and check the progress towards goal completion.

Goal monitoring can also aid in the clarification of concepts, the concentration of efforts, the efficient use of time and resources, and the likelihood of accomplishing the company's most critical objectives.

Goal tracking allows you to stay focused on the most critical aspects of your objective.

2. Why should we set goals?

Your goals are personal to you and do not have to be similar to anyone else's.

The traditional definition of goal setting is the process of defining something you want to achieve and creating quantifiable targets and timelines to help you get there.

Setting goals might help you achieve financial independence or adopt a healthy diet in any area of your life. It gets easier to make goals in other areas of your life once you learn how to set goals in one.

3. How to reach your goals

The 3 most important points to remember to reach your goals are mentioned below:

  • Make a road map to help you achieve your goal. Plan one or two actions per week, and focus on completing modest tasks each day which in turn would help in goal completions
  • set the correct kinds of objectives and have an action plan
  • Visualize yourself achieving your objectives, including the steps and effort required to get there . Try to imagine how you'll feel once you've achieved your goals. This will create a lasting image in your mind that will help you stay motivated in the long run.
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Written by
Aditya Rao
Aditya Rao is a founder at Kaapi. An all-in-one toolkit for remote managers with employee surveys, fun Icebreakers, one on one meeting templates and more
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