How frequently should you review goals with your team?

One of the most important rituals that an organization or a team leader can establish is the frequency of the goal review.  If you want to be a successful leader you know you should care about setting and achieving goals. But, how often should you be talking to your team about their goals?  

Answer: Often enough to make sure everyone on your team knows the goals are important, but not so often that they don’t have time to work on them. How do you get the updates you need without constantly micromanaging what everyone on your team is doing?  This blog post will give you some ideas and some tips to make you a Strategic Goal execution expert.

Assumptions & Background:

In this example I’m assuming that we are talking about Quarterly goals. These are goals that are set at the beginning of a quarter and have an expected achievement in 3 months.  In our company we use a confidence factor of 50% to make sure that we are setting stretch goals. What this means is that at the beginning of the quarter if we are 100% confident we can hit a goal, it is not aggressive enough. If we are less than 50% confident, we may be biting off more than we can chew.   

Using goals to motivate and manage performance is a skill that a manager our a high achiever should develop and can really develop as a skill.

Why do we  Set Quarterly goals?

Setting goals takes energy. If you set goals on too short of a frequency, then you will be constantly setting goals. Too many goals will dilute the power of the goals.  Goals are designed to create focus, not to dilute focus.  If you don’t take enough time to achieve the goal, you will be limited by what you can achieve. Some organizations might set more aggressive goals using an Annual goal planning schedule.  Generally speaking the longer the time frame, the more aggressive your goals can be. The time duration of the goal also corresponds with the trust between the team.

How often should you review your goals?  Weekly.  

Weekly is the perfect cadence to review your quarterly goals.  In any given quarter you may only have 10-12 reviews if you schedule reviews on a weekly basis.  This is based on the first & last weeks being dedicated to setting the goals and final accountability.

In the book 9 Lies About Work, Marcus Buckingham’s research shows a 13% increase  in engagement with weekly checkins vs a 5% decrease when check-ins are done monthly.

How to make the goal review time efficient.  

The purpose of a goal review is not to get into the nitty-gritty details of every single goal.  Yes, sometimes you may need to, but don’t make it a habit. The primary purpose of the goal review is to make sure everyone is still focused on the right  priorities, and to make sure that problems are shared while there is still time to remedy them.

Review these details for each goal:

  • Goal Name: What do we want to achieve
  • Goal Owner: Who is primarily accountable for the goal.
  • Goal Description:  A bit longer description of what we you want to achieve. This may include the “From X to Y format, or the summary of the desired future state. 
  • Health:  We use a simple Red/Yellow or Green Heart for goal health.  
    • Green is good, we are on track.  
    • Yellow is we have some problems but we think we can get there in time
    • Red = Problem that requires outside help.
  • Progress or Confidence:  What is the percent complete or how confident is the goal owner that we will achieve the goal by the due date.  This can be very similar to goal Health but has more to do with the forecast than the current state.
  • Goal Review Note: This is a specific status update about this goal for the specific period of time.  It can be a short as 1-2 sentences & should communicate the latest status of the from the perspective of the goal owner.

Goal Review Template

    • Screenshot from KPIFire software for Strategy Execution Software

You can keep the current status of the goal in something as simple as a spreadsheet. However if you want to keep the historical record of the Goal Status updates you may need to use a database system such as KPIFire.   Here is a screenshot from KPI Fire showing how goal reviews are stored for a goal.