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Goal Setting in Teams

Considerate specificity, difficulty, commitment of the goals

· team

Goal design for individuals does not always fit for teams.

A classic recommendation for setting goals is to ensure they're SMART: Specific | Measurable | Agreed Upon | Reasonable | Time bound

Specific goals in Teams: What's the goal? Learning or performance

  1. Specific goal does not fit well in team: as the task become complex, the team perform worst.
  2. Specific learning goals has even worst outcome than specific performance goal.
  3. Specific learning goals in team focus individuals' attention on narrow elements of their tasks, thus reducing coordination, communication and teamwork - resulting in missed opportunities for learning and innovation.

So don't be specific for learning goal in managing your team, set a general team learning goal.

Source: Nahrgang et al., Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2013

Goal difficulty and job performance

  1. For accepted goals, performance increases linearly and significantly with goal difficulty.
  2. For rejected goals, performance decreases linearly and significantly with goal difficulty

Source: Erez & Zidon, Journal of Applied Psychology, 1984

What happens in teams? Depends on goal orientation of the team.

  1. Team with high learning orientation are more keen to achieve difficult goals.
  2. Team with high performance orientation have more difficulty to achieve difficult goals

If you want to set difficult goals, cultivate and embrace team learning orientation.

Source: Lepine, Journal of Applied Psychology, 2005

Goal commitment in teams

  1. When the team is committed to its goal, performance generally at the team level improves.
  2. High goal commitment improves team performance, especially when individual team members are interdependent and rely on each other.

Source: Aube and Rousseau, Group dynamics, 2005

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