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  • Writer's pictureBrian Reaves

Inspire Your Team to Strive for Stretch Goals

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

Setting goals that dare your workers to go a little further than they think they’re capable of can present special challenges for a manager. It starts with an introduction. Ask your employees these questions to inspire them:

“Who do you want to be?” Most people have a dream in their life of something more. The best managers are those who are able to find out what that is and then find a way to help their employees achieve at least a portion of that if possible. If you are able to find an employee whose dreams match opportunities in your company, you are about to set a fire in that person that will benefit you both in the long term. Inspired employees often become promoted employees at some point. Ask this question and then listen to see if you can make it happen. Helping people tap into their deeply hidden dreams and desires is one way to unleash their potential. If you don’t push people to explore their ambitions, they may settle for achieving goals that don’t come anywhere near what they’re capable of accomplishing.

“How can we apply our resources to gain the maximum advantage?” You probably have a lot more at your disposal than you or your team imagine. There are tangible resources and then there are intangibles that should be taken into consideration as well. The key to gaining commitment to a stretch goal is persuading your team to look at what they already have available to work with and how they can use those resources to push themselves ahead. And if your team is lacking something that they truly need, then get busy and provide it.

“What can we create together?” Like it or not, there is this stigma sometimes attached to upper management that gives the impression the work ethic fails as the climb rises on the corporate ladder. Make sure you are an active part of your team. After that, it's time to build teamwork among everyone. Remind your people that working together they can accomplish more than would be possible individually. Help the group find a common goal and then assist them in identifying the unique skills each team member can contribute to the objective. Don't be afraid to take your team on a team-building exercise or two that forces them to work together outside the office so they can see how well they can work together inside it.

“What goals can we focus on?” Identify one or two long-term goals to strive for. Concentrating on those will help your team guide themselves along the way. In addition, suggest that your team devote its resources to the greatest measurable impact. This provides a feeling of progress that will help people stay focused on their stretch goal.

The problem most managers face when presenting stretch goals is in the presentation itself. Throwing it out there as a "This helps our company" only thing can lose effectiveness over time, especially if the employees are already losing momentum and motivation.

Give them a personal investment in the outcome. Find a way to individually connect with your team to drive them forward so each feels they contribute in a way that both helps their company and also helps them professionally. If you are able to tie their own long-term goals into your stretch goal--even if it means possibly motivating them out of your department and into a promotion if they are successful in the long-term--then do it. You will find your people hitting goals they never thought possible before.

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