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The third of four articles addressing performance planning
This article addresses planning group performance by setting goals at the group level. The final article in this series will review pitfalls to avoid when setting goals. "The optimal strategy is to set goals for the group as well as for each individual within the group. This is often what occurs in effective teambuilding and quality circle sessions. The groups decide on a common objective, and action steps (goals) are then set showing who will do what, when." This advice comes from Goal Setting by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham. When work is interdependent, setting goals for groups fosters a higher degree of cooperation and communication within the group. As a result, organizational performance improves. What should be considered when setting group goals? Several issues and principles are worth noting.
Three major factors come into play when setting group goals:
The principles of goal setting for individuals, as discussed in a previous article in this series (Workforce Performance), also apply to groups. Successful group goal setting must include specifying tasks, setting targets, developing clear measures, outlining time frames, prioritizing goals, rating goal performance, and coordinating efforts necessary for goal achievement.
Teams are a special type of group. Setting team goals is especially important to the teams' success. In their book, Teaming Up, Darrel Ray and Howard Bronstein summed it up best when they said:
"Without goals which can be measured there is no team." Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, authors of The Wisdom of Teams, provide a checklist that can help pinpoint trouble spots in the team or group goal setting process:
Keeping in mind the principles and factors of goal setting, goals should also be based on internal and external customer needs and expectations. Using customer feedback to provide information for establishing goals has several benefits:
Employees should be involved in setting group goals. A group of peers can suggest more insightful feedback on work objectives than a single manager or supervisor. One manager cited in the article, "Customer Service Drives 360-Degree Goal Setting" from the June 1995 issue of Personnel Journal, observes, "Group goal setting provided a much greater understanding of the roles that people play. Involving peers and teams [in the goal-setting process] aligned people and established role clarification."
Group goals can be an integral part of performance management programs. With the new definition of non-critical and additional performance elements, it is easier to use the Federal appraisal process for communicating goals and measuring and appraising group performance against established goals. The regulations define a non-critical element as a dimension or aspect of individual, team, or organizational performance, exclusive of a critical element, that is used in assigning a summary level. If an agency chooses to use non-critical elements, team or organizational performance can be factored into employee performance plans by using non-critical elements to define goals, measure performance, and provide feedback on group performance. Agencies can also use group goals in their awards programs by recognizing and rewarding groups or teams that achieve their goals. For example, goals are established and rewarded in gainsharing and goalsharing programs. By using group goals in performance management programs, agencies emphasize the importance of effective group performance and demonstrate that improving performance is important to the organization.