Collaborative Goal Settings

Imagine you are participating in a 3-legged race. You and your partner are struggling to win. In the end, you figure out that you two have to be in near-perfect synchronisation if you want to actually finish the race and win.

Working as a team in organizations is not much different. Instead of just 2 participants, there are multiple individuals at any given point of time. While the members’ feet may not be physically tied together, they are dependent on each other to finish the race on time. Everyone needs to collaborate and work in unison to ensure team’s success.

We collaborate on a daily basis with our co-workers. Although we don’t always realize there are number of benefits of an efficient collaboration process –

Emergence of best solutions:

The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.

-Linus Paulings (Nobel Prize winner)

Most meetings are presided over by managers who share ideas they believe will be beneficial for the team. Unless they are true visionaries, these ideas may not be the most suitable for their team. These ideas may have their merits but it is difficult for just one person to think from all the possible angles.

Collaboration encourages teams to brainstorm for ideas. Every individual may have a different perspective of looking at a problem. The more ideas everyone shares, the more perspectives are revealed. What could earlier have been a unidirectional approach, can now be a thought through solution. This can be seen through the phases of group development. One can immediately understand that in order to bring the group to a ‘performing’ stage an efficient collaboration must be in place.

Increase in productivity levels:

Everyone needs help at one point or the other. It may be a minor issue or a downright code red and managers may not always be available in such situations. A collaborative environment ensures that everyone strives to help each other achieve success. If there are any obstacles, the team can work together to find a solution around it. Basically minimum time is lost thus leading to increase in productivity levels.

Sharing skills and expertise enables the team to unlock their true potential and achieve greater results, larger than their individual selves. One or two stellar performers may create an impact but when everyone shares their skills with one another, there is a definite increase in overall performance. The resulting rise in productivity is nothing short of phenomenal.

Positive work environment:

How often have we seen the blame game being played between various departments in the company? Sales department blames the marketing department for not creating sufficient pipeline of prospects. Marketing department blames the Finance department for not providing funds at the right time. And so on. What they fail to realise is that while every department may have their own targets to achieve, unless all of them work together, their company won’t succeed.

It’s quite simple. A car can cover its journey in time only if all its parts are functioning and wheels are moving. If even one of them fails to work or any of the tires burst, it will not be able to reach its destination.

When companies create an environment of collaboration where different departments help each other, they are assured of getting positive results. Instead of playing the blame game, cross-functional teams understand how they can support others. It’s like having a well maintained car that always reaches its destination as planned.

From a number of collaboration improvement techniques, one that manifests itself at all places is impact of goal setting.

How goal setting can boost collaboration:

In the three-legged race example, the participants had a shared goal which is to win the race without falling down or getting disqualified. With that in mind, all their efforts were directed towards achieving that goal.

Similarly, teams in an organization have their own races to win i.e. achieve their goals within a specific period of time. To succeed, all the members need to direct their efforts towards that one common cause. The best way to give direction to these efforts is by improving the company’s goal setting process. Studies show that organizations that focus on making their goal setting process efficient have experienced higher employee engagement through collaboration.

Goal setting, when done collaboratively can be a revelation. As suggested in the OKRs, which is an Agile goal setting methodology – more than the goals themselves, the nature of this exercise results in increased trust amongst co-workers. The diverse personalities help you look at the goal from different point of views. Setting goals is one of the simple yet important methods to increase motivation at work. It helps create a roadmap which is used by everyone to concentrate all their efforts on the end result. You can mark your progress and determine if you are on the right track. Better to charter your course and steer towards it purposefully than drift as the waves come. Though the management should make sure that all goals eventually align towards the same summit. Otherwise, all their efforts and time will be invested in rowing in different directions.

Once these goals are set, it is equally important that they are publicly visible to your entire team. In a collaborative environment, everyone knows what the other is working on and what is the intended result. Thus they can help each other and contribute to respective success, if there is a possibility.

Next time you start setting goals, make it a collaborative process & measure the impact it has on actual achievement.

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