Exit Site

Setting Goals for the New Year

Last week, we took some time to think about ways to look back on the work of your team. Now it is time to look to the future!

I have worked with a lot of teams throughout my career.  Teams often struggle to find ways to stay engaged, effective, and creative.  Meetings can become monotonous and dull, which then leads to decreased engagement from team members.  Sometimes, teams engage in “busy work” that isn’t directly related to the mission.

What I recommend teams do on a regular basis, particularly if they find themselves in a rut, is:

  • Revisit your mission (use our Mission and Vision Handout if helpful!)
    1. Is your mission still applicable to the work of the team?
    2. Is the work of the team staying focused on the achieving the mission?
  • Establish goals and timelines

I’m going to spend some time focusing on goals and timelines. For some of you, this might be a natural part of your thought process.  But that isn’t the case for many leaders or teams, especially those whose work centers on the immediate response to sexual assault.

Setting goals as part of the New Year planning process has many benefits. It helps teams prioritize any competing needs. It allows the coordinator to have a clear idea of the scope and flow of the work, so they aren’t scrambling the day before every meeting to figure out what to put on the agenda. This can be especially helpful to coordinators with limited or no additional funding, as they often have less time available to plan for meetings. Planning also gives the team a purpose and overarching goal for the year. This can help teams avoid being sidetracked by ideas or events that, although important, may not directly relate to the work of the team. By having a well-formulated plan, you can allow space for those extra activities so they don’t derail the team’s priorities.

There are many ways teams can work on developing their goals and setting timelines. One of my favorite things to do is ask the team to dream big. It can be helpful for teams to think about what success would look like for different areas of the collaborative response and what they could do to increase access to healing and justice for victims/survivors.

This will look different based on your community needs, your team, and your facilitation style; but here are the broad steps I do when working with teams:

  • Brainstorm and write down all ideas
  • Prioritize the ideas
    • Sometimes having people vote for 2-3 ideas helps this process
  • Take those ideas and think about what the potential timeline could be for that to be achieved – 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 3 years?
    • It is good to have some tasks that can be achieved in a shorter term and some that may be longer term goals
  • Break those tasks down into smaller steps
  • Create a timeline for these tasks to be achieved
    • Be ambitious but realistic. Think about how much time people are able to invest and what other competing factors might impact the timelines.
    • Include some steps for the shorter term tasks and some for the longer term goals. Think about what tasks can be completed outside of meeting times – this can help the coordinator plan more effectively.
  • Assign responsibility for each of the tasks (pssst: this one is really important).
  • Discuss what accountability looks like on the team (psst: this one is too).
  • Write it up nicely and share with the whole team (here is a template we use!)
  • Do the work (and check in regularly on this work plan)

Make sure your planning fits the needs and capabilities of the team. Some teams need to focus on a singular task. Other teams might have funding that dictates how they have to organize their work.  However you structure your plan, setting these goals and timelines in advance helps teams be more effective in creating true systems change.

Please share your team’s goals or ideas for the planning process in the comments! Others may benefit from your ideas.