Skip to main content
The Employee Experience Platform | Culture Amp
Five steps that drive commitment to team goals

David Ostberg

Director of People Science - Performance, Culture Amp

Organizations demonstrating high performance are often good at adapting to the increasing pace of innovation and technological advancement. One of the most significant shifts companies have made is moving from a focus on the efficiency of individuals to a focus on adaptability and shared team goals.

Research has shown that compared to individuals, teams typically innovate faster, identify problems earlier, and produce more effective solutions. As a result, companies are evolving the way they engage, enable, and reward their teams. Goal-setting matters even in remote and hybrid teams.

John Doerr, a venture capitalist & business author, says, “There’s a new way of organizations and teams that are powerful. They are deeply transparent - and as a consequence, very open - and they’re collaborative. Instead of being hierarchical and top-down, they’re networked in rich relationships with others that are trying to get their work done. So, whatever you can do to enhance those values, you’re going to have a higher-performance organization.”

One of the most powerful ways to enhance performance and drive success at the team level is to align team goals. In this article, we take you through the factors which influence how successful goals are, as well as tips you can apply to your next goal-setting process. 

Five factors that influence team goal achievement  

It’s important for managers and leaders to understand several factors that influence whether or not a team achieves its goals. 


Challenging goals produce the best results, yet they require a high level of focus and effort, thus driving a need for higher commitment. 

Frequency of setting and reviewing goals
Writing clear, effective goals takes practice. Collaborating in that process helps drive the quality of goals. The more frequently individuals and teams review goals, the better they get at creating them. Some companies set quarterly goals and evaluate progress every two weeks. Other organizations set 6-month or annual goals with a monthly or quarterly evaluation cycle. 

Feedback on progress

Feedback is closely related to the frequency of setting and reviewing goals. Individuals and teams need feedback on progress and action strategy (i.e., how they’re working to achieve their goals). Feedback from leaders and colleagues is an opportunity for recognition and, when necessary, course correction. If a team doesn’t understand how well they’re tracking towards their goals, it’s impossible to adjust the level or direction of effort to accomplish the goal.

Keep in mind: The level at which you provide feedback is a shortcut for employees to figure out what is important to your organization. If team-level performance is important, it’s critical to evaluate progress and provide feedback at the team level. 

Satisfaction and goal difficulty

People rarely derive satisfaction from achieving something that is easy. Elevating the difficulty of attaining a goal (within reason) not only improves performance but drives greater satisfaction when the team succeeds. We don’t cherish what we don’t work hard for. 

Recognition and rewards

Goals and the key milestones along the way act as a tangible reflection point for recognition and, when appropriate, rewards. Recognition and rewards act as motivators for sustaining effort and focus when things get challenging.

Rewards don’t always have to be monetary in nature; they can include incentives like team-level recognition, time off, celebratory offsites, fun team-building opportunities, or better yet: something that the team chooses. Ever heard of the “high-performance cycle”? It’s a term referring to the upward cycle where high goals lead to high performance which in turn leads to rewards, which then results in higher satisfaction and confidence, which in turn leads to setting even higher goals on future challenges. This is the kind of cycle nobody complains about getting stuck in. 

Five factors that influence commitment to team goals

Because it's so important, let's dive deeper into commitment. How can leaders elevate commitment to goal outcomes in their teams?

Here are five science-based tips:

  1. Alignment and importance
    Leaders should not only set a good example by sharing their own goals, but they also need to set an inspiring vision and communicate how important each team’s goals are in helping achieve that vision. Alignment of team goals to company-wide goals is critical to establish how each team’s efforts contribute to the organization’s success. Teams with goals that are not organizationally aligned often suffer from a lack of sense of purpose and impact in the long term. Likewise, alignment of employee-level goals with their team’s goals is equally important: when individuals’ goals are aligned with their group’s goals, team performance improves.
  2. Transparency and visibility of goals to others
    Sharing goals publicly enhances commitment by establishing a virtual social contract and making action and follow-through a matter of integrity in the eyes of the team members and others. Therefore, leaders should ensure that their team’s goals are visible and have been communicated to relevant parts of the organization. 
  3. Participation in setting goals
    Employees who are involved in the goal-setting process set higher goals and have higher performance than those whose goals were assigned by their manager. Though it’s easy to assume these performance outcomes are strictly a result of improved motivation, much of the performance increase actually comes from the cognitive impact of the information exchange that happens while collaboratively establishing goals. Participative development of goals not only results in greater clarity around expectations but also produces more effective strategies for how to achieve them. 
  4. Ownership and accountability
    Each team must take full accountability for their goals (participation in goal setting helps). Yet it’s still critical that a single individual takes ownership of the process and outcomes to keep the team on track. 
  5. Documenting the goals
    It may sound old-fashioned, but there’s research to prove it: detailing your goals in writing or in some reviewable, visible way increases commitment to achieving goals.
Illustration of a yellow graph with a line trending up and a floating hand pointing to a part of it

Create a culture of high-performance

Learn how Culture Amp can help

What’s next

View all articles
Which employee perks actually matter


Employee perks: What your people actually want

Read article
Career pathing 101


Career pathing 101: What it is and why It matters

Read article
The role of the expert generalist in the workplace


The role of the expert generalist in the workplace

Read article

Build a world-class employee experience today

Your browser is out of date. Our website is built to provide a faster, more engaging experience. Your browser may not support all of our features. Please update to the latest version of Microsoft Edge or contact your network administrator.

Close browser update banner