It is not often that you hear a sports team asking where is the goal. It happened once when my sister played Lacrosse in the days where there was no standard size for pitches and it was particularly foggy. Even then she knew what she was looking for and where it should be. All too often in our organisations outside sport (and to be honest some sporting bodies) are nowhere near as clear about what or where the goal is.
If you want your team to work together it is vital to give them a clear common goal. They might have different roles that support the overall team goal and sometimes these may even appear to conflict but ultimately the best teams support one another to achieve the goal.
The goal of a Lacrosse team is to finish the match having scored more goals that the opposing team. Therefore it is just as much about stopping them scoring as it is about scoring yourself – goal keepers are important. A team that focusses entirely on scoring goals is very entertaining but might not win the game if they let in just as many (or worse still, more).
Dr Edwin Locke and many others have written extensively on the benefits of setting goals but those goals need to be clear and communicated. In a post-millennial era the important thing seems to be “If you are going to change the goals at least tell me”. We are living in fast moving, agile times where what was truth and obvious yesterday is not today. This leads to middle managers believing that either they have to stick to what they were last told was the goal in order not to be wrong or middle managers making the best decision they can about the goal with limited availability of business wide intelligence. It is therefore more and more vital that senior managers and boards re-iterate what the goal is regularly and ensure that the whole company (team) are still focussed on completing it.
Don’t forget to monitor the consequences of the goals you set and celebrate when you score! My sister did score but I didn’t cheer that day because I didn’t see it go in.