Happy 2015!  The WLH Team wishes you a happy and successful New Year. Each month, WLH Consulting, Inc. ("WLH") will be sharing proven management techniques and other resources to support you and your team(s).  Our news will focus on strategic execution, change management, and effective talent development.  We welcome any feedback and suggestions.       


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Jump Starting Your Teams and
Goal Setting for the New Year

One common trait of a strong leader is to be forward thinking and create a vision for others to follow. The beginning of the year provides an opportunity to bring teams together to reflect upon last year's successes and engage in goal setting discussions.


Outlined below are a few simple exercises that can be used during a team meeting. These activities provide a structured method to channel the discussion and engage team members. It is recommended to dedicate one-half (1/2) to one (1) full day to allow meaningful dialogue to take place and agreements to be reached.


Part I: Reflect upon Last Year


Start the process by reflecting upon the previous year's activities. This is a great time to celebrate accomplishments, as well as, to acknowledge lessons learned from past efforts. Ask your team members to do the following:


1.  Write three (3) accomplishments that the team is proud

     of from 2014:

  • Write one comment per page on a 4" x 6" Post-itŪ Note (for a total of 3 post -its).

2.  Write three (3) lessons learned that can be leveraged in

     2015 (again, 1 per post it for a total of 3).

3.  Divide the team into two groups and have them

     summarize the key themes.

4.  Engage the team in a discussion using the following



  • What did the team do to support broader organizational goals?
  • Were there any surprises or unexpected events that the team managed well?
  • Where did the team try new things and take risks?
  • What were the most valuable lessons learned

Part II:  Think ahead and align with the broader

organizational goals and strategy


A good place to start with goal setting is to revisit the organization's vision, mission, and overall strategy. As the team leader, it is important to reinforce broader organizational goals and to emphasize the team's role in contributing to the organization's success. Helping to "connect the dots" provides team members with a better sense of how their individual and collective work contributes to the greater organizational goals and strategy as a whole.

The second part of the meeting is a more structured discussion. The desired outcome is to gain agreement on three to five (3-5) goals. Discuss how the team will keep "their eye on the prize" and avoid being distracted by other less important activities. As you determine the team's goals and priorities for the New Year, keep the following in mind:


1.  Distinguish Goals, Strategies, Objectives, and Tactics:

  •  A Goal is a broad primary outcome. This is where the team wants to go.
  •  A Strategy is the approach the team will take to achieve the goal.
  •  An Objective is a measurable step to take to achieve a strategy.
  •  A Tactic is a tool used to pursue an objective associated with a strategy.

2.  Consider including common business challenges, profitability, efficiency, and innovation should be included as goals.


3.  Approach the goal setting process collaboratively. Encourage team members to share ideas on what the goals should be and why they are important. Gaining commitment to shared goals will encourage collaboration and avoid people becoming at odds with one another. When people understand the reasoning behind a certain goal, they are more likely to "buy in" - perhaps even pushing themselves harder to meet or exceed such goals. At the very least, they will have a better understanding of why the goal exists in the first place.


4.  Establish meaningful measurements and outcomes. Use the common acronym, SMART to ensure the goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time -bound. 


5.  Dedicate time for meaningful action planning to determine specific accountabilities, milestones, roles, and responsibilities.


6.  Determine a structure for monitoring goals and recalibrating any others as needed.


Revisit Team Engagement Practices


After the goal and objective discussions, it is important to shift the focus to team dynamics; how the team operates and reaches agreement. The objective is to have a discussion on how the group will work together going forward. Teams that utilize the following exercise steps are more likely to develop and apply practices to achieve overall effectiveness.


1.  Write "Stop, Start, and Continue" on three different flip charts and post on the wall.


2.  Give the team 5 minutes to respond the questions below. Ask team members to write only one comment per 4" x 6" Post-itŪ Note:

  • What does the team need to start doing more of to achieve its goals?
  • What does the team need to stop doing to achieve its goals?
  • What should the team continue doing that will aid in achieving its goals?


3.  Have team members place their individual sheets on the appropriately labeled flip chart.


4.  Assign a group to each of the three (3) flip charts. Ask them to group the post it notes into common themes and prepare a presentation for the group.


5.  After the presentations drive the team to reach agreement on communication, confidentiality, and how to coordinate activities.


This three (3) part meeting agenda provides a framework to re-engage and re-energize the team for the New Year. Clearly identifying team successes and goals for the coming year creates common ground. Make sure to clarify any agreements and next steps. End the session by restating your own commitment to how you envision a successful year, welcome any feedback, suggestions, and/or further input throughout the process. 

Please contact us for more information about goal setting and team development.  We have been helping organizations, teams, and individuals improve performance and results for over 25 years. 



Wendy Heckelman, Ph.D. 

WLH Consulting, Inc.

(954) 385-0770

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