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How To Set Your Team's Resolutions In the New Year The goals can be work-based too, and this is where managers and business leaders must play a critical role in enabling and supporting each worker's career resolutions

By Ajay Sridharan

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A new year often signals new beginnings and a chance to change for the better in the year ahead. Many people may choose to set personal resolutions, from living a healthier lifestyle to reading regularly or learning a new skill. These goals can be work-based too, and this is where managers and business leaders must play a critical role in enabling and supporting each worker's career resolutions.

A good time for goals

The post-holiday return is a great time to set workers up for the year ahead. Indeed, many recommend that work goal-setting occurs at the beginning of the year, to boost business performance for the next 12 months. As Brent Cassell, vice-president, advisory at Gartner, explains, "To ensure business performance consistently outpaces expectations, HR leaders need to get the goal-setting process right at the beginning of the year, rather than waiting to address the previous 12 months of performance at the end of the year."

The benefits of team goal setting

For your teams, having individual and team-based goals can significantly improve performance and alignment. When teams and individuals have challenging and meaningful goals to work towards, they have something that unites them with a common focus. They will work together instead of trying to outperform each other. Managers are core to setting team goals, as they understand the business goals, individual team member goals, and how this influences the team's overall goals.

Furthermore, when individual and team goals are closely aligned with business goals, workers are more likely to see tangible proof of their unique contribution to their employer's objectives. It gives your people the opportunity to display their skills and provide value to the organization - and provides a framework for future development.

The team aspect of this is vital. Individual goal setting often overlooks how colleagues can contribute. Although 82 per cent of workers say that they work closely with their teammates, only 3 per cent of organizations involve peers in the goal-setting process. Managers play a crucial role in facilitating this, encouraging workers to ask peers for guidance and help when goal-setting and matching workers with colleagues and opportunities that align with their goals.

How managers can help

With this in mind, how can you support your team with setting goals for this year?

SMART: To start, all goals need to be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-related). An example of this would be to increase the number of leads in your sales pipeline by 25 per cent in the first quarter. The more specific the goal, the more clarity your team has to focus their efforts and understand their role in it.

Business alignment: It's also important to check that your team's goals align with the business objectives, and at a more granular level, that individual goals also align with what your business needs. Managers need to strike a balance between helping workers achieve their personal goals and developing them to meet business goals. Those that succeed often outperform their competitors of companies that have effective performance management systems, 91 per cent report that their employees' goals are linked to their business priorities.

What skills are needed?

Once you have your team goals, you can look at how your team can fulfill them. This will most certainly involve assessing their current skills. Your team may have a skills gap in one function that'll need to be addressed. Or you may need to bring in new skills, through upskilling existing team members, redeploying someone from another team, or hiring externally.

Resources required

You can also look at the resources needed, and it's worth noting that many resources may not require a huge investment. To upskill a team in a new technology, for instance, there may be free online articles and videos. Peer-led learning is another avenue to explore; one that develops one team member's communication, leadership and teaching skills, and that simultaneously upskills another colleague in whatever's being taught. There are also several online learning platforms that curate these resources in one easy-to-consume place.

Time will be another important resource. Your team will need time to work towards their goals, with regular check-ins to see how they are progressing and tackle any blocks. Google's 20 per cent time is a well-known example of setting aside time in the work week for personal development.

Next steps

Helping your team set their individual and team goals is a worthwhile endeavour. It will help them find greater meaning in their work, to work as a close-knit team, and to add value to your business objectives. This begins with just a few steps.

  1. Aligning your team's individual and collective SMART goals to business goals.
  2. Understanding the skills needed to achieve team and individual goals.
  3. Equipping your people with the resources and opportunities they need to achieve those goals.

As we look towards the year ahead, make sure your team gets off to the best start. Help them set their goals this month and you'll be rewarded for the next 11.

Ajay Sridharan

VP of South East Asia, Degreed

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