Team Goals vs Individual Goals

Does everyone in your group have the same agenda?

To be successful a team must have specific and challenging goals. Sometimes, however, team members’ goals conflict or diverge from team goals. For example, one member might be ambitious and interested in moving up the organizational ladder. In this case, the person’s individual goals may be more focused on personal achievement and recognition than in cooperating and coordinating with team members.

Team members’ lives outside of work  must also be considered. Most people have family and friendship obligations. Others may be sports fans or wine connoisseurs. These responsibilities and interests are necessary for a psychologically healthy and balanced life. Life outside the workplace can, however, impact life at work and vice versa. It is therefore important that team members know enough about their team members to make reasonable accommodations when appropriate.

Hidden agendas may disrupt team harmony and lead to distrust in a team. Directly confronting a team member with goals that are not aligned with the team goals may be counterproductive, because it may result in denial and defensiveness. Instead the team should revisit its goals and make all expectations and roles of members clear. Action toward those goals should then be monitored and documented.

When team members’ goals and agendas are transparent, rather than hidden, the team can work together with knowledge of the relevant contexts. This situational awareness provides a key to understanding how the team can move forward as an integrated unit.

Sandra Carpenter, Ph.D.