When your workplace is stagnating and things are not getting done the way they should be, it may be time for a group goal-setting session. Setting goals and then renewing them over time can help keep the fire burning and let workers know that you expect them to continually do better. Even if things are going well, goal-setting can be a good activity to keep employees motivated to achieve more. Goal-setting sessions can be a drag, but you can make them a bit more fun by encouraging collaboration and keeping the mood light.
Set up the meeting ahead of time with snacks and drinks that the group enjoys. Keep the mood light by playing some light, fun music in the background.
Break the staff into small groups; if you have 20 people in the room, break them into four groups of five. If you only have five people total, keep them together. Ideally, you'll have four or five people in each group. Don't hesitate to break up troublemakers or separate dominant employees -- spread the dynamic around so that there isn't more than one or two dominant people in each group.
Select one task or area that needs improvement in the office. If you have a lot of issues to deal with, you could also select one task or problem for each group. Write the question, task or problem on a board at the front of the room.
Hand out a stack of notecards or scrap paper for each table or group of people. Ask each person to come up with as many solutions as possible for the question, problem or task at hand, writing one solution on each card. Tell the staff to place their responses face-down in the middle of the table. The "solutions" are the goals; for example, if the "problem" is worker productivity, the "solution" or "goal" written on the note card could be "eliminate office chatting." Remind workers of "SMART" guideline for setting and describing goals -- making each goal specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely; write those words down on the board at the front of the room as a reminder.
Instruct the small groups to review each response together, and as a group, select three or four solutions that seem to be the most feasible or accessible. Have a group spokesperson present the group's ideas to the larger group.
Write each group's solutions on a board at the front of the room, and determine whether there are any repeats. If so, cross one off the list so that each idea appears only once on the list.
Ask each individual to select two of the best goals or solutions from the master list, and to write it down on a new index card. Then collect the cards and determine which ones were most popular. This process of individual brainstorming combined with group decision-making allows people to come up with goals on their own, while at the same time allowing the group to determine together which ones are most important to everyone.
Select a few of the most popular goals -- or perhaps just one -- and write it down on the board. Under the goal, create a bullet point list -- asking the wider group to call out the steps -- for achieving those group goals. Remind workers again of the "SMART" acronym for setting goals.
Write your goals on a large piece of poster board and place them in a conspicuous place in the office, so that it's clear these goals are part of an ongoing effort to improve the workplace.
- Every few weeks, remind workers to refer to the goal sheets to determine whether they're doing their part to stay on track.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.