How to Set Departmental Goals for Your Team

September 8, 2023
setting department goals

Organizational goal-setting is most often done to keep a company competitive and moving forward. But the actions which make expansion possible happen at lower levels throughout the business. And departments are often responsible for setting their own objectives that contribute to the vision of the broader institution. 

In this post,  you’ll learn  what departmental goals are, why they matter, and how you can write them. 

What Are Departmental Goals? 

Departmental goals are specific targets particular to the work and functionality of your team within the wider context of the company. Departmental goals usually ladder up to objectives which should be met by your division as a whole, but can encompass more individualized intentions for smaller teams or single key contributors.

Departmental goals almost always align with more ambitious enterprise-level objectives. For example, if an organization wants to become the market leader in their industry, marketing might set a goal to increase customer interaction on social media. Similarly, Engineering might set a goal to optimize UX, Customer Support might work to increase call capacity, and Business Operations might endeavor to improve the quality of your company’s product or service. All of these objectives work to support your organization’s competitive edge. 

However department leaders should still feel free to create department-specific targets if they are in the interest of overall performance and productivity. 

Departmental Goals Best Practices

When done correctly, established goals and objectives can be a driving force behind departmental success and achievement. But you need to be careful you are not setting either profoundly unachievable targets, or mediocre objectives which will yield uninspiring results. Here are a few things to keep in mind when setting goals for your team at work. 

  • Align with company goals. This is a restatement, but it bears repeating. Keeping your departmental goals congruent with the goals of your organization is mutually beneficial for both entities. Doing so helps to set useful parameters for any actions you undertake and will serve to keep the whole team on track. Knowing how you are directly supporting and affecting the success of the greater business can also be a great motivator.
  • Engage the strengths of your team. Goal setting within your department should be a collaborative process, and is best done when individual contributors are able to engage and play to their strengths while working towards a group effort. Once you set the target, your employees should be given the autonomy to find their part within the project and the specific competencies and skills which they have to offer. This gives employees a sense of ownership and mutual responsibility within an action.
  • Stay in your lane. Particularly ambitious goals can sometimes blur the lines between departments, and you may find yourself taking on or picking up a task which realistically should be performed by someone else. Your department plays a vital role in the organizational ecosystem and you should make sure that your targets stay within the confines of your niche.
  • Utilize a standard goal-setting strategy. There exist a number of planning methods created by expert business strategists that you can engage to set clear, specific goals and objectives for your department. These methods, including the SMART strategy, MBOs and OKRs allow you to set an intention and then reverse engineer that intention to clearly outline what steps you need to take and resources you need to gather in order to meet your goals.
  • Define and track your metrics. You need to describe department-specific metrics that will help you keep track of your goals and whether or not you’re meeting them. Ideally you will evaluate your data at least once every quarter to identify progressive successes or failures, and implement any changes which may be necessary. 

How to Write Departmental Goals

Here are several brief guidelines which will demonstrate how to write department goals using popular goal-setting strategies. 

SMART Departmental Goals

The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. This method is designed to give you as clear a picture as possible of your objective, as well as why you’re setting this goal and what the benefits are. 

Example:

 

Specific (objective) – Optimize all Customer Support self service platforms including FAQs and chatbots for user friendliness.

Measurable – Customers will be asked to leave a review after engaging all self-service platforms. Percentage of one-on-one CS conversations will also decrease.

Attainable – Our budget is sufficient to bring on contract writers and programmers temporarily to complete all required updates to the CS self-service system.

Relevant – Research demonstrates that our primary customer base prefers to solve problems on their own before reaching out to customer service. 

Time-based – Revamp of all self-service portals will be completed at the 6 month marker. 

MBO Departmental Goals 

The Management By Objectives strategy sets expectations for departmental performance and can be most effectively used to motivate employees by drawing a clear line between individual accomplishments and departmental, or organizational, success. 

Example:

  • Increase navigability of Customer Support self-service platforms. 
  • Increase Customer Support call capacity by 20%.
  • Decrease call abandonment to 5%.

OKR Departmental Goals 

The Objectives and Key Results strategy is designed to outline a goal and then define specific steps you will need to take in order to reach the objective. 

Example:

Objective – Improve Customer Support self-service platforms and optimize for user friendliness. 

Key result – Rewrite FAQs and problem solving fact-sheets for maximum readability and navigability.

Key Result – Introduce new internal search engine so that users can easily search and find relevant content for their problem. 

Key Result – Add contact information to FAQ pages for more complex questions and added accessibility. 

Departmental Goals: Final Thoughts

An objective-setting template can support departments in clearly defining goals and goal-oriented actions for their team. Engaging any of the above strategies also allows department and organizational leaders to align department objectives with executive targets. Your departmental goals may initially exist as Key Results in an organizational OKR. Following this, it will be your task to create an actionable plan with your team to meet those goals. MBOs, SMART goals and OKRs alike can give you a clear picture of how you can reach your team objectives to the benefit of the wider company.

Ronny Cheng

By Ronny Cheng

Ronny Cheng is a digital marketing consultant helps businesses of all sizes build high-performing digital marketing strategies that drive revenue.

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