The Slice

[Guide] How to Plan and Run an Effective Goal-Setting Meeting

March 10, 2023

It's often said that the first step to a successful business is setting goals. Clear goals can help influence motivation and boost performance, whether operating a small start-up or managing a team at a large enterprise company. If it's time for you and your team to get together and iron out your precise goals, it's time for a goal-setting meeting. Let's look at all the necessary steps you'll need to take to ensure you walk away with actionable steps and a motivated team.

It's often said that the first step to a successful business is setting goals. Clear goals can help influence motivation and boost performance, whether operating a small start-up or managing a team at a large enterprise company.

As a leader, it's not enough for you to have goals you want your team to meet. You need to communicate and craft these goals with your team. On top of that, not all goals are created equal– you want to create challenging yet achievable goals that are measurable.

If it's time for you and your team to get together and iron out your precise goals, it's time for a goal-setting meeting. Let's look at all the necessary steps you'll need to take to ensure you walk away with actionable steps and a motivated team.

What Is a Goal-Setting Meeting?

Before we get into the ins and outs of planning and running an effective goal-setting meeting, let's talk a bit about what exactly occurs at this type of meeting of the minds.

During a goal-setting meeting, the goals of individuals, the team, and the company as a whole can be communicated. This is an essential time when employees can be brought into the loop regarding what is expected of them moving forward in order to work toward these goals.

An effective goal-setting meeting will help to align everyone's goals so that the best possible results can be achieved.

On top of that, you can use goal-setting meetings to actually collectively create goals rather than simply disseminate them.

How to Plan and Run a Goal-Setting Meeting

Planning and running a goal-setting meeting is well worth the effort, but you'll want to ensure you don't miss essential steps.

Meet With Other Managers and Leaders

If you are planning a goal-setting meeting with your team, one of the first steps is to meet with other managers and leaders in your organization. You might not necessarily need the input of all of the other departments in the company, but it's important to make sure that any goals your team sets align with the greater purposes of the business and the goals of other departments.

If your goal-setting meeting is going to be among leaders within the organization, you'll want to be thoughtful about who should be included and how to structure the conversation. 

Are you setting up a large, remote goal-setting meeting? Check out our guide to hosting a large virtual meeting to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

Clarify the Purpose of the Meeting

It's easy for the main objective of the meeting to get lost in the shuffle.

Make sure that you have a clear sense of what you want to walk out of the meeting with, and remind people of this outcome throughout the meeting.

Create an Agenda

Creating a meeting agenda is an important step in preparation for your goal-setting meeting. Here, you'll be able to outline all the important talking points you want to bring to the meeting.

Before the meeting, send the agenda out to everyone who will be in attendance 24 hours before the meeting time. This gives everyone time to look over the agenda and prepare. Beyond that, it allows team members to contribute to the agenda if they feel anything has been left out.

Are you looking for a little help in creating your team meeting agenda? Check out these meeting agenda templates to help save you time and give you inspiration.

Keep Meeting Notes

Following your meeting agenda is important to make sure that all of the most important points are discussed within the allotted time. You'll also want to assign someone the responsibility of keeping meeting notes, so all of the great ideas that come up during the discussion are recorded.

Your meeting agenda should include the following:

  • Time and date of the meeting

  • Names of all individuals in attendance

  • The purpose of the meeting

  • Agenda items and subjects discussed

  • Actionable items and next steps

  • The time and date of the next meeting

  • Any supporting documents or resources

While keeping meeting notes is always a good idea, you can also record your meeting, so there is an indisputable record of everything that happened. This can also be useful if some individuals can't attend the meeting but would like to watch it after the fact.

Allow Time For Brainstorming and Discussion

Before your meeting, you'll want to give your team members ample time to think about any ideas they might want to contribute to your goal-setting meeting. Sending out the agenda ahead of time helps them understand what items will be discussed and allows them time to brainstorm before getting together with the rest of the team.

It can be tempting to set goals for your team and then show up to tell the team what's expected of them. However, you'll find the ability to actually reach goals is much more effective when everyone has the opportunity to give their input.

When your team members are participants in the task of creating goals, they'll be much more likely to connect with them.

If you're running a fairly large remote meeting for goal setting, you might want to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of muting participants in a Zoom meeting. Though it's good for there to be back-and-forth conversation at times, it's also useful to only have one mic on at a time so that there isn't distracting background noise or interruptions.

Are you worried people won't feel comfortable expressing their opinions during your goal-setting meetings? Take a look at these tips to encourage participation in virtual meetings.

Choose a Time Frame For the Goals

When you're creating the goals for your team, you'll want to ensure a set time frame during which the goals need to be achieved.

Even when they aren't inherently time-sensitive issues, having a time frame helps us to prioritize certain goals rather than putting them on the back burner.

Make the Meeting Extra Special

If you and your team are constantly getting together for meetings, it can be useful to do a little something extra to communicate just how important your goal-setting session is.

The last thing you want is for the goals you set to go in one ear and out the other because your team perceives it as "just another meeting."

One easy way to help set this meeting apart is to offer some brain fuel in the form of pizza, lunch, or breakfast. If you're excited by this idea but concerned about how you will get fresh, delicious food to your remote team simultaneously, you're in luck. At PizzaTime, we specialize in delivering incredible food to distributed teams all around the world.

Create SMART Goals

Not all goals are created equal. There are a number of different goal-setting strategies, but one of the most popular methods is that of SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Developed by George T. Doran several decades ago, many companies still use this strategy for creating and achieving goals. Let's break down each of the elements:

  • Specific: The desired outcome and any expectations of individuals are clearly stated.

  • Measurable: The goal should be numerically defined, and all progress made toward it should be tracked– even qualitative goals should be measured numerically in some way.

  • Achievable: It's good to stretch when you are setting goals, but you don't want to create goals that are impossible to achieve. Take into account your current resources and track record as a team to ensure that the goals you're setting can be reached within the allotted time.

  • Relevant: Achieving a goal doesn't do your team much good if it doesn't serve the larger values and mission of the company. Make sure any goals you set are relevant and appropriate, given the organization's current goals.

  • Time-bound: Even if a goal isn't necessarily time-sensitive, you'll want to assign a deadline for each goal.

Be Transparent

In order for team members to connect with a goal, they need to understand why this goal is important. If it isn't clear why they are working toward a specific goal, they aren't going to be nearly as motivated toward achieving them.

Let your employees know if there was a catalyst for the goal-setting meeting. If the company as a whole is pivoting in a different direction, communicate this. By being transparent, you'll find that your employees are much more likely to connect with a desire to complete the tasks required of them.

Make It an Ongoing Conversation

Having a goal-setting meeting is great, but an even better strategy is to continue to talk about the goals you set after the fact.

Reminding your team members of the goals you all agreed to in your team meetings and follow-up emails can help people remember to track and strive toward goal achievement.

Do you feel like your virtual meetings are always a bit… awkward? Check out these tips to reduce those awkward moments in your remote meetings.

Have Concrete Action Steps

A goal-setting meeting isn't worth its salt if there aren't actionable steps that all members walk away with. This not only doesn't achieve the desired effect but can actually have the opposite impact. Team members end up walking away from the meeting confused and unaware of what is expected of them.

When clear next steps don't result from a meeting, the entire exercise was practically a waste of time. If you've gone to all of the effort to organize and run a goal-setting meeting, that's the last thing you want to have happen!

Understanding Why Goal-Setting Meetings Are Important

Numerous studies have explored how goal-setting relates to higher performance.

A clinical psychologist from the Dominican University of California, Dr. Gail Matthews, performed research regarding individuals that wrote their goals down, shared their goals with other people, and sent themselves updates regarding their goals weekly. This study found that people who did these things were, on average, 33% more successful than those who did not.

A number of studies have also discovered that goal-setting actually changes the way that our brains function. Our brains are able to change their activity in response to stimuli by reorganizing their functions, structure, or connections– a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. This means that setting goals can literally help us optimize our brains to achieve those goals.

Researchers have even determined the type of goals that tend to most significantly change the structure of our brains. One study that was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that the more strongly desired a goal is, the less your brain will perceive the significance of challenges that stand in your way.

Something worth considering when organizing your own goal-setting meetings is that challenging goals that resonate with people emotionally are more effective than weak goals. At the same time, you have to recognize the limitations of the extent to which a manager or leader can impact the actual impact of goals on a person's own mental landscape.

Many companies use goal-setting meetings to help clarify the direction a company is going in and its plans for the future. They can help ensure that the company's goals and the goals of individual employees are in alignment, which in turn helps to boost both performance and productivity.

Setting Goals to Take Your Team to the Next Level

If you want your team to thrive and grow, stepping back and looking at the big picture is absolutely essential. By running a goal-setting meeting, you and your team can come up with achievable yet challenging goals that will help bring everyone together, increase productivity, boost motivation, and generally positively impact the team and organization.

Setting goals can help you and your team track your progress, have a shared direction, and keep everyone accountable. Beyond that, they can help your employees remember the way that the individual tasks they undertake contribute to the bigger picture.

Goal-setting meetings are important for all companies but are particularly necessary when managing a remote team. There are countless benefits to having a distributed workforce, but one of the downsides is that it can be difficult to create a cohesive culture and direction. Through the strategic use of goal-setting meetings, you can ensure that your entire team is on the same page, no matter where they are in the world.

Whether you're looking to share a meal with your employees during your mega-goal-brainstorming session or you want to celebrate after the fact with some fun, team-building remote experiences, PizzaTime is always here to help your remote team grow and thrive.

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