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
- Specific goal does not fit well in team: as the task become complex, the team perform worst.
- Specific learning goals has even worst outcome than specific performance goal.
- 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
- For accepted goals, performance increases linearly and significantly with goal difficulty.
- 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.
- Team with high learning orientation are more keen to achieve difficult goals.
- 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
- When the team is committed to its goal, performance generally at the team level improves.
- 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