Organisations move forward by setting goals and then working hard to attain them. In sport clubs big and small, administrators can feel separated from athletes, who in turn can feel disconnected from the committee or the board.

Bringing everyone together in the pursuit of a common goal is crucial to moving ahead. Working toward common goals is one of the defining characteristics of a team.

Now you’d think the goals of a sporting club are pretty straightforward – to win games, matches and trophies right?! Beyond this, some people may actually be looking for other outcomes like social interaction, making friends, some may be looking for economic gain such as increased sponsorship and membership, others may be seeking influence through committee and membership, others still may be looking for status by winning at any cost, and some may be there for altruistic reasons, to feel good through helping other.

Chances are, we are all there for a combination of reasons – it’s when priorities clash that teams risk underachieving or failing.

An effective team will have a clear picture of what the group is trying to accomplish, and will develop ways of working together in order to accomplish their goals. This seems quite simple and obvious, yet teams constantly suffer from goal confusion: some people don’t understand the goals, some are not committed to the team goals, and some are not happy with their roles. Worst of all, when asked if they understand, most people simply nod their heads.

Another problem is that when individuals only work to their own ends, productivity can be compromised. This means that clear communication and consistent goals are essential to team building.

So what is the process to achieve this?

In order to have common goals, you first need to define exactly what those goals are. Goals are generally divided into short term and long term. Short-term goals might include winning a certain number of games in a season, fielding a number of teams, or successfully launching a new club website. By contrast, long-term goals may include moving into a new level of competition or expanding the volunteer base over the next five years.

It is the responsibility of the Board or Club Committee to determine the long-term goals from the interests of the stakeholders, and the responsibility of management to ensure that short-term goals align with these- see the unit on governance to learn more about this.

For goals to be widely understood and shared, they need to be communicated. Once they are collectively determined, a simple process for communication could be:

  • to bring everyone together to outline what the club or team goals are, and why the club wants to achieve them;
  • detail what each person’s responsibilities are;
  • detail what actions are required to reach the goals; and then
  • revisit and reinforce the goals as you progress.

As goals are gradually realised, the contributing communities should be recognised and rewarded. This could simply involve public acknowledgement. This has the added advantage of setting good examples for others and gives everybody an additional incentive to continue the journey.

Including all stakeholders in every step of the process allows them to feel valued and more invested in the success of the organisation, which improves interactions at all levels.

So how well does your team or club do this?

How well are your goals defined?

How well are they communicated?

How are people recognised and rewarded for their efforts?

And how do you ensure that the right stakeholders are included at the right times, and that no one is left behind?