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  • Writer's pictureJenn Donahue

Setting Effective Goals with Your Team for the New Year


As 2022 rolls in, it’s a great time to ask yourself: How can I effectively set goals for myself and my team?

As the new year begins, it’s time to set new goals, both personal and professional.

When it comes to your business or role as a leader, what are some things you want to achieve?

If you want to achieve great things with your team, you’ll want to get clear on exactly what it is you want to achieve.

In this article, we will look at three steps you can take to set effective goals with your team:

  1. Get to know your team

  2. Set SMART goals

  3. Establish an evaluation process

The problem is, not all leaders know how to set effective goals, either for themselves or with their team.

You can learn leadership skills (even as an engineer) that will allow you to communicate openly, set goals effectively, and work together efficiently.

When your personal and professional goals with your team are aligned, you are able to achieve great things and accomplish more than you could without clear goals.

Keep reading for a 3 step process for effective goal setting with your team.

1.Get to know your team

Getting to know your team better might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s actually one of the hardest things for us engineers to learn. It’s a soft skill that can take us really far though, if we develop the skills.

As an introvert, total math nerd, and female leader in STEM, I understand how hard it can be to break away from the computer and the numbers and actually form complete human sentences that make sense to others. Let alone make actual deep connections with co-workers!

The good news is, though, we can all learn the skills we need to get to know our team better so that we can grow our team!

It starts with being vulnerable. While this might sound like a scary word to you, it’s one of the quickest ways to break down the barriers and get to conversations that matter. As a leader, vulnerability creates respect. The more open you can be with your team, the more they will be able to relax around you and share what is important to them.

To create the vulnerable moments, you have to show your face regularly. This means meeting somewhat often (whether in the lunch or break room or outside of work) you have to put yourself out there. When you create regular scenarios to bond with your team, you’ll start facilitating conversations that get to the heart of your team’s needs, wants, desires, dreams, and aspirations.

Once you’ve established a rapport with your team, it is much easier to talk about goals. You may even already have an idea of your teams’ personal and professional goals and know the right questions to ask to get the conversation started.

Having a foundation of trust and open communication makes effective goal setting with your team so much easier.

2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals and write them down!

S.M.A.R.T. goals have been taught to us since we were in school and they are still the most effective framework for setting achievable goals effectively.

So what are S.M.A.R.T. goals and how can you use them to effectively set goals with your team?

Once you’ve established the appropriate time and place to create goals with your team, you’ll want to dive into exactly what goals the individual wants to accomplish and how they relate to the company as a whole.

Start by asking the individual to name some goals (I suggest starting with three to five) that they would like to accomplish. Once you have your list of objectives, you’ll apply the S.M.A.R.T. framework.

If it’s been a while, here is a quick refresher:

S - Specific. What are the specific details of your goal? In more narrow terms, what does it look like to achieve this goal?

M- Measurable. What metrics or benchmarks can you use to measure your progress on this goal? How will you track improvement or progression on your goal?

A- Attainable. Is this goal possible given the resources you have? Can it actually be achieved or is it unrealistic?

R- Relevant. How relevant is this goal to the overall success of the individual, department, and company? Is this goal an important one to achieve?

T- Time. What is the timeline for this goal? Is the deadline achievable?

When you filter goals through this framework, you’re able to get really clear on which goals you and your team need to go after. You’ll often find that many goals are dreams that can’t realistically be achieved.

Once you’ve set your S.M.A.R.T. goals, make sure you WRITE THEM DOWN! It seems incredibly simple but according to this study, people are 42% more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down.

Writing them down solidifies and confirms with your team that you have set objectives and plan to stick to them. I suggest keeping the written goals somewhere you and your whole team can see them regularly for maximum effectiveness.

3. Establish an evaluation process

The best way to achieve goals is to check in on them and track progress regularly.

Establishing a solid feedback and evaluation process around your goals increases your chance of success tremendously.

Because what you don’t want to happen is you take the time to go through the goal setting process, everyone feels motivated, and then there’s no conversation about the goals ever again. This is what many people do when setting New Year’s Resolutions.

If you want to achieve great things, following through on your goals is essential.

Creating consistent re-alignment between your team and the goals you’ve set together keeps you on track and moving towards big things.

As you track your progress, you will be more prepared to prevent any foreseeable roadblocks or challenges your team might face. You will be able to see what stands in the way of you and reaching your goals and create systems and processes to remove any barriers.

As a leader, these check-ins will have you consistently asking yourself: “What resources, tools, or guidance does my team need? How can I provide that for them?”

Staying aware around your teams’ needs is one of the best ways to grow your team and maximize productivity.

Make 2022 a big year

As a leader, it is your role to unite your team towards achieving great things. And setting effective goals is one of the best ways to get there.

When you and your team are aligned on what matters to you and the company, each person becomes willing to give their best to get there.

Effective goal setting for engineer leaders in STEM can feel like a challenge and trust me, I get that. However, the work you put into this will translate to less unforeseen challenges and more organized growth, saving you time, energy, and effort in the long run.

This year, do your best to show up for your team and lead them in the right direction with clear goals.

This article states: “You should have a clear picture of the work ahead, understand its importance, and have a concrete plan for keeping track of your successes and failures.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

If you need help aligning your team to achieve great things, let’s connect!


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