Goal Setting Workshops for Teams

Our bespoke goal setting workshops help teams set ambitious goals and make detailed plans for achieving them.

In many ways, goals and work appear inextricably linked. Whether it’s annual turnover, client retention or environmental responsibility, targets tend to be central to daily business operations. But there’s a contrast, of course, between corporate objectives and individual goals for employees – especially as desire to succeed plays such an important part in working towards anything.

Plus, while the act of goal setting might change the way that people work, actually achieving those goals – and to what extent – is another matter altogether.

Our goal setting workshops help teams work together to set goals that are good for the team and the company, getting everyone aligned and motivated to set ambitious targets and develop clear, practical plans to turn those goals into reality.

Does Goal Setting Work?

Decades of research by goal theory pioneers Dr Edwin Locke and Dr Gary Latham indicates that yes, setting goals in the workplace DOES make a difference.

In 2002, they summarised their findings as follows:

  • Performance: Higher performance is consistently achieved by setting specific goals, rather than simply encouraging people to do their best
  • Challenges: The most ambitious or difficult goals produce the greatest levels of effort and performance
  • Pace: Tight deadlines lead to a faster work rate than loose deadlines
  • Commitment: Making a public commitment to a goal enhances personal commitment
  • Achievement: It makes little difference whether a goal is set by the boss or by mutual agreement

So, in essence, people will work harder and produce more if goals are part of the equation.

Motivation & Commitment

In 2004, Latham looked more closely at the motivational benefits of setting goals and concluded that the process serves four functions:

  • Directive – Goals provide a focus for an employee’s attention and effort
  • Energising – High goals lead to greater effort than low goals
  • Affects persistence – Hard goals prolong effort, when participants are allowed to control the time they spend on a task
  • Indirectly affects action – The odds for success are increased by learning and using task-relevant strategies

Meanwhile, a study published in 2000 by Howard J Klein emphasised the importance of interest and appeal, especially with regard to the ‘energising’ function of goal-setting. When an employee is committed to a specific target and determined to reach it – and also believes it is achievable, albeit with substantial effort – the process of goal setting becomes much more worthwhile. Other findings by Locke and Latham suggest that they share this viewpoint.

For example, if an employee feels a goal is relevant to them and will bring benefits for their own future – such as learning new skills to work with a client they admire, or achieve a promotion or pay rise – the motivation factor is obvious. Learning new skills to attract new clients for their manager, or improve overall company profits, is unlikely to have the same impact. They may still learn, but without the same level of enthusiasm, which may inhibit results.

Furthermore, carefully chosen incentives can potentially inspire employees rather than simply help them focus, motivating them to think more creatively and thus exceed an original objective. As a side-effect, they might even achieve completely unexpected benefits in separate areas of work, bringing ‘bonus’ results for themselves and the wider business.

Setting SMARTER Goals

When you’re setting goals, frameworks can give you a useful starting point. And the most famous goal setting framework of all is SMART.  A staple of corporate goal-setting for over 30 years, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.

But perhaps it’s time for a refresh. Essentially SMART is a clever way to help you put your goal into a clear sentence. And that’s useful, in that it helps you define your goal. But it doesn’t necessarily help you determine whether or not your goal is an intelligent one.

There’s also the issue of Attainable and Realistic, which can cause people to set low, unchallenging goals. So is there a smarter way? Let’s unpack what SMART means and see if we can make a few improvements…

S is for Specific. It encourages you to pin down a clear, tangible idea of what you want to achieve; or pinpoint an area for improvement.

M is for Measurable. All goals need a yardstick, otherwise we’ll never know if they’re successful.

A is for Ambitious. A worthwhile goal one that challenges you to think big and to reach outside your comfort zone.

R is for Relevant. Will this goal really be good for business? Does it fit with your values or wider plans? As obvious as it may seem, a goal’s relevance defines how meaningful it is.

T is for Time-bound. Goals remain dreams unless you set timeframes – there’s nothing like a deadline to motivate action.

E is for Emotional. We feel before we think, it’s a scientific fact. Even in hard business terms, goals that come from the gut will probably have more sticking power – in the sense that you want them more.

R is for Rewarding. Because what is a goal if not rewarding? Keeping your incentive – the benefits of your goal – in sight will drive you on. Seeing the peak of the mountain and visualising your satisfaction on reaching it.

So that’s SMARTER. A useful tool to set clear, practical goals.

Perfectly sized, and in your comfort zone

Our goal setting workshops work best for teams of 12-20, however they can accommodate more if you have a spacious venue.

Depending on your team and organisation, three hours can be a good length for a goal setting workshop – long enough to explore a topic, generate ideas and agree on a strategy; short enough to keep the energy high and enable you to get the day’s other important tasks done too.

However we also highly recommend full day goal setting workshops if you have time – this enables you to really go deep, plus we have plenty of activities and tricks up our sleeves to keep everyone upbeat and productive.

If you have a suitable space within your offices, that’s great. Ideally, a large room with natural light, walls for post-it notes, not too many tables, a couple of flipcharts and a projector / large TV screen. Alternatively we can suggest some great creative spaces.

We come armed with reams of post-its, Sharpies, worksheets and props – including a rubber brick and ping-pong balls! – to help stimulate and energise your team to come up with their most ambitious goals and the most practical plans for achieving them.

“After the session, my colleague and I couldn’t stop talking about the new ideas we had generated in our heads, all of which happened in such a short period of time. I would recommend Creative Huddle to any company who have reached a creative stalemate.”


Heidi Swain, University of Sussex

“James led us through some of the leading thinking in creativity and got us all engaged in hands on activity specifically aimed at developing new ideas to solve the most important challenges we face.”


Russell Findlay, London Youth Games