Leaders are crucial for the growth and success of companies, but alone they cannot do everything. Leadership qualities attributed to them (ex: charisma) can take them far, but they must also methodically build teams that are motivated to succeed. Goal-setting and feedback are a couple of the tools leaders can use to create a motivated and engaged team culture of “reaching for the stars” and continuous improvement.   GOAL-SETTING   Goal-setting includes providing clear, specific, and achievable goals that team members focus on to measure their success and growth. It sounds simple enough, but there are best practices that can make this an effective tool for motivation:   Collaborative goals: Include team members when creating their goals. When team members are involved in a decision or development of something, such as their goals, their commitment level will be higher. When goals are co-developed, the team member is invested in the goal and will be more motivated to achieve the goal compared to when a non-collaborative goal, that they may not agree or believe in, is cast on them.   Establish clear and achievable goals: Use specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. Having clear and achievable goals will reduce confusion and frustration regarding what needs to be accomplished and/or how the goal will be measured. This will help team members stay motivated and focused on what needs to be done to achieve their goals.   Align goals with organizational objectives: Team member goals must be aligned with the company’s goals and objectives. Team members want to make an impact and there is no better way for them to understand their impact by clearly communicating how their goals roll up into larger organizational goals. Understanding the big picture and how they contribute to it helps them stay motivated and excited about succeeding.   Stretch goals: To spur innovation and continuous growth and improvement, include stretch goals that are challenging yet achievable and that push team members outside of their comfort zones. When team members achieve these stretch goals, they will be more confident and more motivated to innovate and achieve greater results. Break down large goals into smaller milestones: Help team members understand the breadth of larger goals and then break them down together into smaller goals. Understanding why a goal is considered a large goal will help team members understand why the goal has been reduced, and they won’t feel that it was reduced due to their abilities. Additionally, having smaller milestones will result in more frequent accomplishments and celebrations, thus, increasing morale and motivation.   PROVIDING FEEDBACK Once team members’ collaborative goals have been finalized, a foundation for maintaining motivation will have been laid. But, it doesn’t end there. Team members strive to succeed, make an impact, learn and grow, and excel. Feedback is how team members gauge how they are performing, but it’s also another tool leaders can use methodically to motivate team members:   Provide regular and constructive feedback: Plan to have frequent and regular feedback sessions beyond the standard mid-year and end-of-year performance review conversations. Reinforce desired behaviors with positive feedback and provide constructive criticism where improvement is needed. The more frequent feedback allows team members to course-correct early if they were heading down a wrong path. The act of pivoting onto the right track and still knowing that there is time to achieve their overall goals is motivational in itself for team members.   Transparent, two-way communication: Create a safe environment where team members can transparently share their feedback with you, too. Not only does this provide insight into what the team member (and possibly the rest of the team) is thinking about, but it makes team members feel that their opinion is valued and heard – further boosting morale and motivation.   Recognize and Celebrate Achievements: Recognition of team member achievements is critical for motivation. When recognized, employees feel their efforts and contributions are acknowledged, respected, and valued. One caveat regarding recognizing and celebrating achievements is that not all team members celebrate the same way. Some team members may appreciate being recognized at a company-wide town hall, but other employees may prefer an under-the-radar celebration. The leader that understands each team member’s preference and plans accordingly will further help the team member feel they are valued as an individual.   Provide Development Opportunities: Whether a strength or a weakness, feedback should revolve around growth and learning and development. When there is a mix of strengths and weaknesses, begin the conversation by sharing the strengths first. Strengths-related feedback should include actionable steps the team member can take to elevate their performance. Weakness-related feedback includes guidance for improvement, but the focus should be on the growth to be had and not the weakness.   MOTIVATION IS AN ONGOING JOURNEY, NOT A ONE-TIME ACTIVITY   Building a motivated team is a collaborative journey that requires participation from the leader and team members. Goal-setting and regular feedback are tools used to increase motivation by helping review progress towards goals and pivot early when improvement is needed. This cycle of goal-setting, feedback, and adjustment ensures team members stay motivated resulting in the team member and the company growing and succeeding.  

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