Organizational Goal Setting

Organizational Goal Setting

Organizations cannot survive and flourish for a very long time without some basic goals. Goals give an organization a purpose and direction to move towards the entire year.

Three Levels of Organizational Priorities

Purpose—a broad, general statement that tells why your organization exists; it usually doesn't change from year to year and is often the first statement in your constitution.

Goals—statements describing what your organization wishes to accomplish, stemming from your purpose. Goals are the ends toward which your efforts will be directed and often change from term to term or year to year, depending on the nature of the group.

Objectives—descriptions of exactly what is to be done, derived from the goals. They are clear, specific statements of measurable tasks that will be accomplished as steps toward reaching your goals. They are short term and have deadlines.

Steps for Setting Goals

  1. Brainstorm goals as a group. (People support what they create, and will accept responsibility more easily.)
  2. Choose from the brainstormed list those you want to attend to.
  3. Prioritize as a group.
  4. Determine objectives and plans of action for each goal. Be specific and include deadlines.
  5. Move into action. Follow through.
  6. Continually evaluate your progress.
  7. Be flexible; allow your objectives to change to meet your new circumstances.

Here's a tip that might help: Make your goals VISIBLE!!

  • Post them.
  • Give a copy to every member.
  • Discuss them at meetings—put them on the agenda.
  • Put them in newsletters and materials you send out.

Source: Organizational Advising Handbook, Western Illinois University

Ten Guidelines to Good Communication

  1. I will be sure I understand what I want to say.

  • What is the real purpose of my message?
  • What do I expect the receiver to do?
  • I will clarify my ideas before I attempt to communicate them.

    • Can I accurately say what I want to say?
    • Am I interesting? Meaningful?
    • How many ideas should I include?
    • What is the minimum number of ideas I must get across?
  • I will state my message as simply as possible.

    • Is technical language imperative or would simpler language be better?
    • Will the words I use mean the same to the receiver as they do to me?
    • Will a picture or graphic help convey the message?
    • Have I been as brief as possible?
  • I will consider the entire environment affecting my communication.

    • What impression does my form of the message convey?
    • When and where will the message be received?
    • How will the time and location affect the interpretation?
    • Is it necessary to use several methods to get the message across?
  • I will be aware of the receiver.

    • Can I capitalize upon his/her known needs or interests to improve understanding?
    • Can I get the message from his/her viewpoint and understand it?
    • Am I telling the receiver all he/she needs to know?
  • I will consider the overtones of my message as well as the intended message.

    • Does the "tone" of the message say more than the basic content?
    • Can various interpretations of meaning cause my message to be misunderstood?
  • I will provide for and encourage feedback.

    • Can the receiver easily tell me what was understood?
    • Can he/she ask for more information?
    • How can someone report personal feelings/actions resulting from my message?
  • I will follow-up my communication.

    • When I finished my message, was it complete?
    • How will I know when it is complete, how successful it was, or what further steps I'll need to take?
  • I will be sure my actions support my communication.

    • Do I do as I say?
    • Does my body language support my message?
  • I will seek not only to be understood, but also to understand. I will be a good listener.

    • Do I concentrate when I listen?
    • Do I understand what the other person is really saying?
    • Am I listening or just hearing?
    • What feedback should I give the message I hear?

    Advisors can provide a group with invaluable information and assistance. How does this occur? It begins with the advisor and student leader of that organization sharing an open, honest relationship and having the opportunity to share ideas, receive feedback, and build trust. If these two people take the time to build this type of relationship, they will be able to provide consistent, effective leadership to the organization.

    Guidelines for Effective Advising

    General Functions

    • A group advisor must express sincere enthusiasm and interest in the group and its activities.
    • At times it is wise to allow the group to be on its own. You can demonstrate your trust in them by stepping back for a short time; however, do not pull back too far because they may feel you have lost interest. If you never step back, they may feel you are the "parent."
    • Act as a positive critic to the group. Give them feedback on how they are doing.
    • Serve as a resource for alternative ideas or solutions.
    • Be aware of any and all procedures and regulations affecting the group. Assist them in adhering to them.
    • Try to encourage the assignment of tasks to all members.
    • Advise and evaluate the officers on performance of their duties.


    • It is important for group members to know each other well enough to be able to share thoughts freely and join in the group.
    • Get to know members and help them identify the contributions they can make to the group.
    • Work with group leaders to develop and implement procedures for building group feeling and purpose.

    Goal Setting

    • Early in the year, raise questions about the group goals. What is their purpose? What do they want to accomplish? Try the consensus method for group goal formation.
    • Keep a record of goals and encourage the group to periodically evaluate it's progress in relation to those goals.


    • Meet with the officers at least one day prior to the meeting to develop an agenda. Help the officers consider what has to be done and what should be done in light of their goals.
    • Following the meeting, discuss with the officers any problems encountered during the meeting, and offer suggestions for improvement.
    • Attend as many meetings as possible.

    Source: Organizational Advising Handbook, Western Illinois University

    Building an Effective Team

    An energetic group of people who are committed to achieving common objectives, who work well together and enjoy doing so, and who produce high quality work.

    Team Building

    The process of forming diverse individuals into a group who share common goals, objectives, and expectations, as well as a commitment to one another.

    Ingredients for successful team building:

    • A block of time (2-4 hours)
    • A comfortable, informal environment
    • A relaxed, open-minded group of people
    • An agenda of activities to stimulate growth, sharing, and bonding

    Team Building is appropriate:

    • For a new group.
    • For an organization with large numbers of new people.
    • When members seem bored or irritable.
    • When members appear to be going off in different directions.
    • When there is a lot of conflict or infighting.
    • When members have been apart for a while.
    • When you want a break from normal routine.
    • When you want to boost a group's team spirit.

    Team Building Activities

    Step 1: Getting acquainted

    Interviews—Group members pair up and interview one another for five minutes each. Partners introduce each other to the group, including everything he/she can remember about the partner.

    Step 2: Sharing expectations

    "I Expect" Exercise—Leader passes out 3 x 5 cards where members list expectations of leader, officers, group members, and advisor. Cards are passed in an expectations are listed on the chalkboard, discussed, and accepted or rejected as realistic.

    Step 3: Clarifying goals

    Group Goal Setting—Members participate in reviewing previous goals and setting the group's goals and objectives for the coming year.

    Step 4: Developing Working Relationships

    Rap Session—Discuss questions like:

    "How will decisions be made?"

    "What will be our working style?"

    "How will we assure everyone the chance to speak?"

    "How will we resolve differences?"

    "How will we insure completion of our work?"

    Sources: Leader Bits brochure / University of Kansas and SODC handout / University


    The ability to motivate others has long been an accepted hallmark of the successful leader. This is true of student leaders on college campuses, as well as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. In an organization where people are motivated, there is maximum productivity, efficiency, and enjoyment.

    Motivating others is a leadership skill you can learn, says Harvard University. Professor Roland Barth, if you're willing to consistently apply the seven t's of motivation . The t's are seven practical techniques for motivating others.

    Technique #1: Delegate effectively.

    By wisely assigning responsibility, you'll get the majority of the membership involved. It will ease both your mind and your workload. Often, leaders inappropriately delegate time consuming tasks to people who don't have the time to do them. Learn to spread the work around. It reduces the stress and gets more members involved.

    Technique #2: Assign incremental tasks.

    Get everyone in your organization involved, even if its in small ways at first. When you delegate even simple tasks, you draw members into action on behalf of the organization. The more they become involved, the more meaningful their commitment and the more successful the organization.

    Technique #3: Treat members equally.

    Everyone enjoys being "in the know". People want to have influence and feel as if they share power within the organization. Show that you value every person in your organization. It'll translate into a more motivated membership.

    Technique #4: Use praise and criticism.

    Inevitably, as a student leader, there will be times when you'll have to praise and/or criticize. Learning to do so effectively maximizes your potential as a motivator. If possible, employ praise and criticism separately. Too often, when members or officers must be criticized, student leaders attempt to "soften" the blow by adding praise. It's known as the "sandwich approach"—a thick hunk of criticism with a thin slice of praise before and after. Generally it doesn't work. It lessens the impact of both the criticism and the praise and ends up leaving everyone dissatisfied.

    Technique #5: Generate enthusiasm.

    There's no substitute for genuine enthusiasm. Real enthusiasm generates real energy, which can become an irresistible force if you focus it properly.

    Interact with your members in a positive, energetic manner. Don't complain about personal or organizational issues. Believe in your organization and show some zest. Have confidence in your members. Be enthusiastic. It's contagious!

    Technique #6: Promote integrity.

    An essential part of your college development is forming your own set of principles. Practice what you believe is important. It will make your personal convictions stronger and promote similar convictions in your members. People model what you do. They don't necessarily do what you say.

    Technique #7: Maintain your humor.

    Take your work seriously, but yourself less so. You'll lead more effectively, be less stressed, and be more fun to work with if you learn to roll with your role. Organizations, by the very diversity of their members, produce amusing situations. Step back once in a while and laugh at the absurdities. You'll keep your sanity—and your friends—when you maintain your sense of humor.

    Source: Student Leader, February 1992 

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