Goal setting activities can greatly boost employee engagement. But what do these goal setting activities involve?
Goal setting activities are exercises that engage and motivate employees to set goals. In addition, they can help employees assess whether they’re setting the right goals and also assist them in prioritizing goals effectively.
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Benefits of Goal Setting Activities
Goal setting activities have a number of benefits, both for employees and for an organization.
First, these activities boost morale and motivation. They allow people to set goals that give their work meaning and drive them to excel, and the process of setting goals feels exciting and creative with these activities.
Second, goal setting activities help employees focus on specific priorities and accomplish bigger, more meaningful things. This improves discipline in an organization. “Goals launch the annual performance journey; if you step off in the wrong direction, you’ll never reach the destination you’re targeting,” states Oracle.
Third, setting great goals promotes job satisfaction and loyalty. Employees will feel nurtured by the support provided through these activities. Goal setting activities are important for both teams and individuals for all of these reasons.
Are there any drawbacks of goal setting activities? Only if you choose exercises that don’t work for particular individuals or teams. Listen to their feedback and note their level of enthusiasm.
Of course, consider the quality of the goals employees are creating, too. Offering several different activities to choose from allows your team members to select the activities that most resonate with them. In turn, this will boost participation in the goal-setting process.
Goal Setting Activity Ideas
Let’s explore some examples of goal setting activities for teams and individuals. Using a combination of both types of activities can bring the greatest benefits.
Goal Setting Activities for Teams
Team goal setting activities help people set strong team goals that can be worked on collaboratively. As you introduce an activity, remind employees of the organization’s current goals. This will help you create appropriate cascading goals as a team.
Find Common Ground
Ask each employee on a team to write down their personal goals on sticky notes. Then, have them organize their goals into clusters of similar goals on a wall or whiteboard. In this way, they’ll see where goals overlap, and they can create a list of team goals.
Brainstorm on Opportunities and Threats
Prompt team members to brainstorm on potential opportunities and threats the company is facing. As they call out ideas, jot them down on a whiteboard (real or virtual). Then, discuss which opportunities seem most viable and which risks seem most threatening. Based on these conjectures, formulate and discuss potential team goals.
Set Team Stretch Goals
Review what your team has accomplished over the previous year or quarter. Write down specific metrics to discuss as a group. Create visuals like charts to show changes of these metrics over time, too. Then, brainstorm reasonable yet ambitious stretch goals based on these metrics. Write down ideas and distill them into SMART goals.
Some people think best in writing. So, have employees spend five minutes freewriting independently about great team goals. Give them a prompt to start with. For example, “Imagine we’re sharing a big new idea with our board. Everyone is thrilled to hear it. What’s the goal we’re discussing? Don’t hold back.”
Then, they can share their ideas “popcorn” style. Encourage them to voice even silly or offbeat ideas—they could turn out to have a lot of merit!
Goals should be accompanied by key performance indicators (KPIs) by which to evaluate success. As teams, employees can jot down ideas for metrics to use for particular goals. Then, they can discuss which KPIs are most applicable for each goal. Criteria should include being measurable, meaning they include specific numbers or percentages to aim for.
Now, let’s turn to engaging goal setting activities for individuals.
Goal Setting Activities for Employees
These goal setting activities will help employees establish actionable personal goals. Before they begin, refresh your employees’ memories about their broader team goals. That way, they can ensure their personal goals are in alignment.
Ask employees to make two columns on a sheet of paper. In the first, have them write down 10 things they did at work on the previous day. In the second, have them write down professional goals they want to achieve within a year. Then, ask them to compare which tasks support these goals. They can draw lines to show these connections.
A goal-setting questionnaire can facilitate personal reflection. Employees can discuss their answers with managers to foster good goal-setting.
Here are some open-ended questions to ask on your questionnaire:
- What competencies do you want to grow?
- How can you better use your skills to support your team’s goals?
- What areas of your work deliver the most impact?
- What types of goals would you feel most excited about? Name examples of potential goals.
- What personal goals would best support your team’s main goals?
- What support would you need to achieve these goals?
- Are your current goals challenging enough? Too challenging?
- What is negatively affecting your progress toward goals?
- Do you have the resources to achieve your current goals? What would better support you in achieving them?
Use survey tools to administer this questionnaire. Let employees know there are no wrong answers!
This activity helps people easily visualize how their goals and objectives relate. Participants begin by making three to four “bubbles” on a piece of paper. In them, they write down their central goals. Then, they draw branches from them leading to objectives, or stepping stones, toward those goals.
They can get as creative as they want, using multiple colours and incorporating artwork.
In this way, mind mapping can help employees design KPIs in addition to goals. Plus, it produces a quick visual reference that keeps goals and benchmarks front and centre.
Discuss Goals with a Partner
Have employees pair up with a coworker to discuss potential goals for their personal work. Ask them to try to set goals that are mutually supportive. In these conversations, they might point out hidden strengths and opportunities to use their skills. Then, they can touch base each week about progress they’ve made.
These conversations will inspire them to aim higher and choose more relevant goals.
Design Your Ideal Day
In this exercise, employees map out their ideal workday. They list tasks and priorities they’ll handle during blocks of time throughout the day. They should fill their schedule with things they feel passionate about. At the end, they can examine their list. Which activities do they want to do more of? This can help them establish meaningful goals.
How to Get Started with Goal Setting Activities
Let’s now explore how to get the most out of goal setting activities.
Tools Used Setting Goals
Use the right tools to enhance your goal-setting process. Here are a few useful options to consider:
Give employees a goal-setting worksheet to help them get started. This tool will help set realistic targets and begin creating a plan.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers a handy goal-setting worksheet. It includes space for reflection on the previous year’s goal achievement.
You can also use a simple worksheet for writing SMART goals. It first asks employees to name a goal they have in mind. Then, they evaluate how specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound it is. Based on their answers, they can reframe their goal statement.
A similar worksheet from Southern Oregon University asks employees to list potential obstacles and solutions as well.
Next, we offer our own template to structure your goal-setting.
Template for Setting Goals
Name your desired goal:
Why is this goal important?
How will this goal support your team’s mission?
How will achieving this goal benefit you professionally? What skills and experience will you
Is this goal SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound)? Please describe how it meets these criteria.
What main objectives and key results will demonstrate that you’re achieving this goal?
How will you measure achievement of this goal? What benchmarks will show you’re moving closer to it?
Has your goal shifted after completing this worksheet? If so, restate your desired goal here:
After setting goals, use goal-tracking software to monitor progress toward them. Quality tools will let employees input their own goals, objectives, and benchmarks and monitor the progress they make towards them.
With the right goal setting activities, employees will be able to set SMART goals and achieve them, and teams will collaborate toward goals they’re excited about accomplishing together.
To support your employees, share in-the-moment feedback on their progress toward goals and benchmarks. One goal at a time, you’ll move your organization closer to fulfilling its mission.
Want to learn more about using software to track goal achievement? Demo our product!