Career Development

A Guide to Goal-Setting Training Games in the Workplace

February 22, 2021

Whether long-term or short-term, goals are necessary for driving your business in the right direction. To innovate, excel in customer satisfaction and produce exceptional products and services, you need to set proper goals. Games offer an entertaining way to train your team to set effective goals at work. In this article, we explain the importance of setting good goals and list some good goal-setting games.

Why is goal setting important?

Setting goals is important because it provides a framework to achieve greater landmarks in your business or career. Effective goals motivate people and make it clear to them where they should direct their energy. When people set goals as a team, it can help them feel more in the process and more responsible for the final results of a project. This can benefit everyone on the team.

Related: 10 Tips for Being More Goal-Oriented at Work

How activities help with goal setting

Engaging activities are designed to teach participants important skills like listening, experimenting and strategizing when setting goals. Training games can demonstrate many important lessons, such as how to set achievable goals, how to revise goals, how to prioritize goals and how to assess goal risks.

Goal-oriented training activities

Below are six goal-setting activities that you can use to communicate the importance of goals and how to plan effectively.

  • The winning lottery ticket
  • Evaluate your yesterday
  • Keep the ball in the air
  • One, some, many
  • Standing ovation
  • Goal communication role play

The winning lottery ticket

What you need: Paper and something to write with

How to play:

  1. Tell participants they just won $20 million and ask them what they'll do next. For example, you could ask them whether they choose to spend or save the money and what they would prioritize.

  2. After five minutes, tell the participants they have now only won $10 million.

  3. Ask them to write down what changes they would make to their original plans and what they would now prioritize.

  4. After 5 more minutes, tell the participants they have now only won 5 million dollars.

  5. Ask them to further revise their plans and priorities.

What it teaches: This exercise teaches participants how to narrow down their core values and priorities. This translates to the workplace, where achieving goals requires determining the most important values of your business and figuring out how to apply them.

Evaluate your yesterday

What you need: Paper and something to write with

How to play:

  1. Ask participants to write a list of 10 things they did yesterday at work.
  2. Ask them to write down what career goals they would like to achieve in the next year.
  3. Have them compare the two responses.
  4. Ask if what they did yesterday contributed toward their future goal.

What it teaches: This activity demonstrates the power of accomplishing small goals to achieve a greater goal. Ideally, daily actions should support long-term goals. Discuss the importance of assessing current actions to determine which ones need to change. Highlight how focusing on small important tasks each day progressively builds up over time into massive results.

Keep the ball in the air

What you need: A beach ball or balloon

How to play:

  1. Split your team into two to three small groups.
  2. Tell the groups their task is to keep the ball in the air for a specified number of hits without letting it touch the ground. No one can touch the ball twice in a row.
  3. Ask each group how many hits they think they can manage.
  4. Give the groups two minutes to come up with a strategy to keep the ball in the air.
  5. Have the groups go one at a time, and keep track of their number of hits.
  6. Each group will go three times and has an opportunity to reorganize their strategy before each attempt.
  7. The group with the highest number of hits in one single attempt wins.

What it teaches: This activity demonstrates how goal setting and teamwork relate. The details in goals matter. Deciding on what they can accomplish, coming up with a strategy and creating new strategies if they are not achieving their objective are all valuable aspects for accomplishing goals as a team.

One, some, many

What you need: Paper, markers, whiteboard and sticky notes

How to play:

  1. Instruct each individual to write down three personal goals on their sticky notes.
  2. Group participants into pairs or threes and have them share their individual goals.
  3. Ask them to combine any goals that are the same or similar and come up with a new list of goals.
  4. Bring everyone together and have each group place their combined goals on the board.
  5. Have participants work together to further group goals that are the same or related.

What it teaches: This game demonstrates visually how a group can identify common objectives and work together to achieve them, even when everyone does not share the same goals.

Standing ovation

What you need: Paper and something to write with

How to play:

  1. Ask each participant to think of one of their biggest goals.

  2. Have participants close their eyes and imagine they have achieved their goal. Have them visualize themselves standing in front of an audience that is cheering for them.

  3. Encourage them to think of as many details in this scene as they can.

  4. Have participants open their eyes, write down what their achievement was and what steps they must consider to get there.

  5. Give participants 10 minutes to write down these steps, working backward from the standing ovation to the present moment.

What it teaches: This activity teaches backward goal setting. Starting with the ultimate goal and thinking about the smaller goals it takes to get there helps participants identify key milestones that they must reach first. Backward goal setting makes steps clearer and reduces any confusion that the traditional goal setting might cause.

Goal communication role play

What you need: Wastebasket and paper

Round one:

  1. Give one participant a crumpled piece of paper with no other instructions.
  2. Explain to the group that the activity you are conducting is about communicating goals effectively.
  3. After a few minutes, turn to the person you gave the paper to and ask them why they did not throw it away when that was the task they should have completed.
  4. Then ask the participant how your response made them feel.
  5. Discuss briefly how goals that aren't communicated affect productivity.

Round two:

  1. Give a different participant a piece of crumpled paper and tell them their task is to throw it away, and throw away any other pieces of paper other participants give them.
  2. For 30 seconds, have all other participants continually pass them paper.
  3. Ask the participant how this made them feel.
  4. Discuss how participants should create goals that are challenging enough to require them to use their skills.

Round three:

  1. Select another participant and instruct them to stand far away from the wastebasket.
  2. Tell them they must continue tossing pieces of paper into the trash with their eyes closed and that the trash will be moved without them knowing where it is moved.
  3. Tell them their performance is based on how many balls of paper they get into the trash successfully.
  4. After 30 seconds, ask the participant how this task made them feel.
  5. Discuss the importance of creating achievable goals and providing feedback.

Round four:

  1. Choose a final participant and give them a piece of crumpled paper.
  2. Instruct them to throw the paper in the trash, but use technical language that is difficult to understand.
  3. Before the participant attempts to accomplish the task, ask them how your instructions made them feel.
  4. Discuss the importance of making goals clear and simple.

What it teaches: This powerful activity shows the significance of setting clear, achievable goals and communicating them effectively. Defined goals with direct instructions increase productivity and empower employees.

Related: How to Communicate Better With Coworkers

How to structure achievable goals

The right tools can help you set continuously set effective goals for your career. Follow these steps to plan feasible goals, keep track of them and remain focused.

  1. Set your mission.
  2. Define your company's goals.
  3. Choose a framework for setting priorities.
  4. Choose metrics to measure goal progress.
  5. Communicate metrics effectively with your team.

1. Set your mission

Create a mission statement with your team that unites everyone's reasons for working at your organization. Your team members are more likely to embody those reasons in their work when they understand the company's mission and respect its values.

2. Define your company's goals

Knowing what specific goals your company has provides team leaders and members with clear direction. When everyone works on a common goal together, they can all make strategic decisions to progress toward that goal.

One simple yet effective way to define goals is the SMART goal method. SMART stands for:

  • Specific: Make your goal as detailed and clear as possible.
  • Measurable: Define how you will measure success.
  • Achievable: Ensure your goal is achievable in a reasonable time frame.
  • Relevant: Make sure your goal aligns with your values and contributes to the greater mission.
  • Time-bound: Set a beginning and end date to stay motivated and on-schedule.

    Read More: SMART Goals: Definitions and Examples

3. Choose a framework for setting priorities

There are many ways to achieve one goal. Try a few frameworks to determine which works best for your team. You could plan using goal setting worksheets, or start by asking questions like "Why are we doing this, and how does it help our mission?" to help determine the first steps.

4. Choose metrics to measure goal progress

Once you have your goal defined and priorities set, determine which metrics you will use to measure progress. Collecting data on the impact of your activities helps you evaluate what works and what needs to change.

5. Communicate metrics effectively with your team

Empowering your team with information helps them make careful decisions. Weekly one-on-one meetings and team meetings are easy ways to bring everyone together to deliver information and gather input. Displaying key metrics in real-time, such as for sales goals, can also motivate your team.

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