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How to Set Team Goals

Two hands drawing on a colorful whiteboard.

Challenging but achievable goals are absolutely essential to the success of a company, and even the smaller departments within it. According to Harvard Business Review, employees that don’t get to see how they contribute to a larger purpose are more likely to become disengaged with work.

Setting team goals have numerous benefits for everyone involved, but only if they’re set the right way.

Why Are Team Goals So Important?

At work, and in our personal lives, goals are necessary to keep us motivated. They help us learn new things, create habits that are relevant in other aspects of our lives, and just to feel good about what we do.

Team goals do all of that, and help create a sense of cohesiveness between every employee working towards them. Even after this goal is achieved, they carry that cohesion on to the next one.

The collaborative effort helps everyone learn new skills, and even set new goals and standards for themselves.

And perhaps, most importantly, is the sense of accomplishment. It’s empowering to achieve your goals, both big and small.

A good leader encourages and inspires his or her team to set goals and achieve them. The Regional Economic Development Center (REDC) at Yavapai College offers a Leadership 101 online course so you can learn how to set team goals, and empower your team to get them done. And when you’re ready, browse through even more of our business leadership courses to learn how to be the best leader you can be.

A round-table meeting with 8 people shown from above.

Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

It’s easy to have a desire for improvement, but not much else. If you’re dedicated to making the change, you need some planning. The gold standard of team goals in the workplace is to set goals that are SMART:

  • S—Specific

  • M—Measurable

  • A—Attainable

  • R—Relevant

  • T—Time-dependent

The SMART acronym acts as a team goals template. Each piece of SMART goals helps you manage your direct reports all the way through a project, and keeps you and your team focused.

Let’s break down what each part means, and some examples of team goals for each.


At inception, goals are usually less specific. For example, you run a company that builds custom bicycles. Maybe you’ve noticed a downward trend in your products’ sales in the last few months. You probably think “we need to sell more bikes.”

This isn’t the wrong idea, however a goal needs to have a scope. In the above example, you need to define some more details:

  • How many bikes do you need to sell?

  • By when?

  • Who will be responsible for making sales?

  • What strategies will your team use to sell products?

  • Is there a specific model you need to move?

Specific goals puts everyone on the same page, and eliminates confusion.


Part of that specificity means being able to measure progress and whether or not your goal was hit. Let’s use the example of email marketing. While the overarching concept might be “better customer engagement,” you need to define “better” and “customer engagement” as something quantitative.

A SMART goal would look like: “increase click through rates to 3%.” This provides you with the desired result, and a way to track how effective different strategies are.


Some people have grand dreams that give them purpose, but these need to be broken down into smaller goals. Especially in the workplace, every goal set needs to be challenging, but achievable.

Let’s get back to that custom bike shop owner. You’ve set the metrics to measure your increased sales, and new strategies to implement. However, you set the quixotic goal of “triple the number of sales from last month” and you want it done in four weeks.

Something so drastic might discourage your team, and make them more likely to not hit that target. Consider your timeline, resources, and abilities before setting a goal.

Illustration of a figure standing on a platform and holding a trophy.


Relevancy is all about overarching business goals. You need to ensure several things before you get started on your project:

  • This goal is relevant to the vision of the company

  • This goal is appropriate for your department and your team’s expertise

  • The strategies used to achieve this goal directly contribute to its success

In a leadership position, you need to ensure that you’re utilizing your resources appropriately.


Just like a specific target keeps you focused, so does a deadline. You need to set a firm date on when the project will be complete or your goal will be met, as well as specific deadlines for every step along the way.

Track Progress

The SMART template helps you narrow down the who, what, where, when, and why of your goal. From there, you and your comrades can get to work in making it happen.

As the team leader, it’s your responsibility to utilize your managerial skills to track progress. A good tracking system can help identify problems before they arise, and allow you to modify the goal if needed.

Think About How to Overcome Roadblocks

Either through tracking progress or while setting team goals, some obvious obstacles might come up. If you can foresee any issues, strategize how to overcome them before they become a problem.

Fixing issues or preventing them can be built into your team goal roadmap. Think about things that will get in the way of your goal, not what will happen if you don’t make it.

A woman drawing and adding sticky notes to a colorful whiteboard.


Some new managers fall into the trap of feeling like they have to do everything themselves. The key part of team goals is the team aspect of it. Everyone should be involved in order to achieve the team’s goal. As a leader, you need to delegate tasks appropriately. When you accomplish something as a team, you can celebrate as a team.

It also helps with some accountability. It’s not fun to let your coworkers down. Knowing others depend on you can provide some motivation to play your part in working towards a goal.

Go Further With REDC

Whether you’re ready to set goals, or you want to earn more microcredentials to give you a leg-up on the competition, we’re here for you. The REDC at Yavapai College offers hundreds of online courses and other job-seeking services to propel you in any direction you’re ready to take your career.

Home LinkThe REDC is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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