Using Stretch Goals Wisely

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In my last post, I talked about how using stretch goals can have a seriously negative effect on your employees.  There’s good news.  It doesn’t have to end like that.  There is at least one way to make them work where they not only aren’t a demotivater, but they can boost your overall morale and production.  Is that something you might be interested in?

So here’s the deal. The secret. The one weird trick that makes stretch goals work.

Stretch goals work really well for teams. Not as in “everyone on the team has one.” More like “everyone has a goal on their own, and the team has one shared stretch goal that they can only hit if they operate as a unit AND everyone hits their individual goal.”

As an example, you’ve got a sales team of ten.  Each has a goal of $100 in sales, meaning $1,000 total.  The team has a pool of support resources they share, so the work they do directly impacts their peers.  If they each hit their goal, they get a bonus.  But giving them each a stretch goal, let’s say $150, for a larger bonus means they fight for the support resources to sell more, which impacts other’s abilities, which then leads to infighting and an overall demotivated team.  Somewhere between a total goal of $1,000 and a total stretch goal of $1,500, the wheels might come flying off.

If, however, you give them each a $100 goal, and then a TEAM stretch goal of $1,500, everything changes.  Each member of the team getting their $1o0 is important to them, but making sure everyone succeeds is just as important.  They can’t up their bonus unless all members of the team reach the $100, and then they collectively pass $1,500.  Less fighting, better sharing of resources, and a motivated concern for the success of others.  Somewhere between a total goal of $1,000 and a total stretch goal of $1,500, something magical might happen.

Will this approach ensure teamwork?  Of course not.  But it sure does set up the right environment for it.

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