How To Set Strategic Goals For Teams Of Any Size
Strategic goals can be hard to pin down – what makes one? Why are they important? These types of goals aren’t only important for you, but for the entire team, and your combined success.
Luckily, setting strategic goals isn’t hard. With the help of former combat-veteran Navy SEAL, business leader, serial entrepreneur and author Marty Strong, we have some tips on how to make strategic goals accurate, reachable and accessible for organizations and teams at large. Learn more about how strategic goals can impact your work, below.
What is a strategic goal?
Strong says that there are a couple of ways to look at a strategic goal by breaking the word “strategy” down to bear essentials: strategy as a verb and strategy as a noun.
“As a verb, it means the activities you undertake to achieve a goal or objective. As a noun, it means an end state, the very thing or outcome you seek at the end of your efforts,” Strong says. “The word is tossed about loosely, and that, along with very little actual training focused on strategic goal setting, confuses many leaders and those who follow them.”
Unfortunately, when a strategy is thought of in these vague terms, strategic goals can be hard to reach because they’re impossible to define. And when goals lack strategy, especially corporate goals, a team lacks purpose – leading many to feel unmotivated.
“Most goals these days are moderate, choked by risk mitigation science and a hesitancy to achieve more than a minor extension of the tried and true, a slight adjustment to the comfortable status quo,” Strong says. “Organizations suffer from two shortcomings when it comes to defining objectives. First, they fail to look far enough into the future. Second, they wish for a future that’s safely familiar and not too different from the present.”
“Without a true long-term strategy,” Strong continues, “organizations tend to wander, seeing something interesting over there and then something else worth pursuing in a different direction. Without a solid compass heading, focus doesn’t occur.” This results in a waste of resources and an inability to accomplish even the simplest tasks.
Tying strategic goals to company-wide strategy
Strategic goals have several purposes; to drive company progress and to inspire team productivity. And ideally, they’re done together.
“Strategy isn’t the property of a team or a single leader,” Strong says. “Senior leadership must involve all management layers, and in turn, those managers must involve all employees in strategy. The entire enterprise from the top down must understand the one or two big things the enterprise is trying to achieve.”
However, this isn’t always the case. Strong says that human dynamics indicate the larger a central group, the more sub-groups will form with their own individualized agendas and biases. Often, an organization’s attempt at creating strategic goals for measurable growth is like a game of telephone, repeated until they don’t resonate on a team level. Other strategic goals set out by leadership can also create sudden or intense changes in workflow or office dynamics that may leave employees resistant.
“Most people do not embrace change, and strategic change is all about big change, not incrementalism,” Strong says. “It is natural to have resistance, individually or in organized groups, to strategic initiatives because people are initially intimidated or fearful of the unknown. Leaders should be aware of the human factor and craft a smart, direct, and honest communication plan to educate the enterprise stakeholders about the threats or opportunities the new strategic plan is designed to meet. Use logic, candor, and an upbeat willingness to face the challenges head-on.”
Developing your strategic goals
To Strong, strategic goals serve “as a dramatic, audacious, game-changing prize that justifies extraordinary focus, courage, and leadership to attain.” And his view of strategic development involves two kinds of teams.
“The first is what I call the dream team. This is a group of creative and open-minded professionals, often chosen from many internal disciplines to add diversity of thought and perspective, who take a visionary concept and build it into a draft strategy.”
“The second team is different. These are the analytical feet firmly on the ground; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it crowd. I use this type of team to punch holes in the draft strategy, to point out failures in logic, assumptions, and the scope or scale of the audacious goals the draft represents.”
Once a team figures out what kind of work they’re doing, they can create actionable strategies for accomplishing their business goals. By setting the right kind of goals that cater to the working styles of your team, you can fill in the gaps with your knowledge and work ethic.
“First, make sure you are truly working with strategic goals,” Strong says. “A strategy isn’t about ticking off a laundry list of goals. Objectives, tasks, and to-dos are micro-level activities, not strategic activities. So, I suggest you first ensure the entire organization understands this critical difference.”
Next, to make the right kind of strategic goal, Strong says, teams have to have a targeted mission that’s straightforward, easy to conceptualize, and requires resources that only your team can fill. These changes should also be accepted by teams, who have an obligation to remain flexible and inspired no matter what strategic goals may be in place.
“Keep it simple, make sure it’s a game changer, and then apply resources and enthusiasm until everybody crushes the big goal. Something this important will drive people, teams, and organizations to become more energized and effective.”
Examples of strategic goals
- Establish strong company culture and values — have equitable and inclusive hiring, onboarding and professional development processes.
Tip: Make hybrid work equitable to everyone.
- Improve technology and digital capabilities — have documentation of processes and an effective resource management solution.
- Diversify revenue streams by exploring new markets — conduct research, surveys and mapping of your current and potential customers and seek to understand their challenges, needs and wishes.
Tip: focus on customer success.
- Reduce 20% of production cost — assess expenses consider workflow automation, check your subscriptions, allow remote work and reduce office waste.
- Reduce customer churn — work to improve net promoter score (NPS) by two points in the next year, and 8 points in the next three years.
- Enhance sustainability and social responsibility — conduct a carbon footprint analysis (including data center sustainability), develop an environmental sustainability plan, establish ethical sourcing policies, and prioritize social responsibility initiatives such as volunteering and community involvement.
Executing and Measuring the Results of Strategic Goals
Executing strategic goals is a constant process that involves dedication, flexibility, and continuous monitoring. Drawing upon Strong’s insights, the key is to create a balanced structure for your team that embraces both visionary thinking and rational analysis. When these two approaches work together, they can effectively translate strategic goals into actionable plans.
Once you’ve set your strategic goals, it’s critical to track their progress and measure their outcomes. One great way to do this is to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your goals. These could be quantitative measures like revenue or customer growth, or qualitative measures like employee satisfaction or brand recognition. Regularly reviewing these KPIs ensures your team stays focused and on track.
Another key aspect of successful execution is flexibility. The path towards achieving strategic goals is seldom a straight line. Encountering unforeseen challenges or opportunities is part of the process. This is where the analytical part comes in – there should be regular assessment of the strategy implementation, identifying any deviations and correcting them promptly. It’s also important for leadership to remain open to making adjustments as needed, as well as communicate those changes effectively to the team.
Executing strategic goals isn’t a one-off event; it’s an ongoing process that requires dedicated focus, regular monitoring, and strategic adjustments. By taking a thoughtful and disciplined approach, organizations can ensure their strategic goals yield the desired outcomes.
Using Hive To Set Your Goals
Are you ready to start making strategic goals with your team? You’re in luck — Hive’s newest (and most exciting) feature is Goals. Everyone wants to know how they’re moving their organization forward, and your team is more than just a project. With Goals, you can set various goals, visualize progress, and keep everyone aligned in one centralized dashboard. You can also:
- Create one, ten, twenty, or more goals for your team, so everyone understands what they’re contributing to.
- Centralize and automate your goal tracking and reporting.
- Pull data from other systems into Hive to streamline operations and reporting.
- Share your goal or goals, assign the goal to relevant teammates, track activity, and give yourselves a deadline.
- Understand how your team and organization are pacing towards an individual goal or a set of goals.
- Color-coded designations allow an easy understanding of “on-track” items.
- When it’s time to review progress, accomplishments, and achievements, easily export all relevant information.
Want to get started? Start your free trial of Hive Goals today!