How to Set Clear Goals with Your Teams

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Having a shared goal on your team provides connection & trust, momentum, and helps the team create results for your game.

We don’t see enough leaders doing this on their teams.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re leading a product team or a discipline. But we see many teams drift to a place where their goals have been lost, and instead, everyone is just ‘doing the work’ every day.

Perhaps you can relate to this scenario:

You arrive at a new team as a leader. You start looking around at the processes and meetings. Everything seems fine, everyone is busy, but things also seem disjointed. Maybe there’s a backlog, but everyone seems to have their slice of it. Perhaps no one seems to know or be interested in how the work relates to the broader game. Maybe there just isn’t a lot of conversation, and the meetings are just a repeated set of boring questions asked and answered ‘because we’re supposed to.’

All these things indicate that your people are going through the motions of game dev but don’t have a single, shared purpose to focus on. It’s normal to find yourself in this spot occasionally, but it also means it’s time to take action.

If you find yourself on a team without a shared goal, here are six steps to creating one. If this is your situation, drop everything and put this in place. There’s little that’ll get you more mileage.

Steps 1 and 2: Explore the Goal

  1. In 1:1s with the team (schedule them if you need to), ask about their goal, how your team is helping the player/audience/customer, and what they think the most critical work is to achieve the goal.

  2. Talk to each of the team’s stakeholders, and ask the same questions. If you don’t have formal stakeholders, think about the people in the broader org with a considerable say in the team’s existence and work.

Steps 3 and 4: Refine and Align

  1. If you have co-leads on the team, discuss what you learned with them. There is probably a lot of misalignment, but that’s ok! Spend a few sessions discussing your goal(s) and tying them into the studio and the game’s vision.

  2. Take the goal you’ve set back to the stakeholders. I recommend doing this as a large group, especially if they aren’t aligned. Get all the stakeholders and co-leads together in a room, and make your pitch. You want to have a compelling case that they can buy into. If you’re worried they won’t buy (or not everyone) will buy your argument, then prep three options before the meeting and have your stakeholders pick one. If they still disagree, have them resolve those differences amongst themselves. (Offer to facilitate!)

Repeat steps 3 and 4 if things need to be more aligned.

Step 5: Share

Once the stakeholders are mostly onboard, bring the goal to the team. Emphasize how it ties into the vision of the game! Explain why players will be better off because of the work your team is doing.

Step 6: Reinforce

Reiterate the goal and vision to the team often. Keep it front and center for everyone! In emails, at the start of planning meetings, and in random 1:1s when it seems relevant.

These steps are simple, but they aren’t easy. They will take time and effort, require negotiation and facilitation skills, and sometimes must be redone as people lose sight of the goal.

It’s worth it. Your team will achieve far more together than they would individually. Your job as a holistic leader is to make that happen.

A shared goal provides more than just a ‘ra-ra-ra’ morale boost. It shapes the way your team collaborates and questions. Teams with a clear shared goal are more likely to have the right conversations, make the right decisions, and learn lessons during development. When team members are asking how their work will make a difference toward the goal, you know you’re on the right track.

Take the time. Have the conversations. Otherwise, you will be a group of people bumbling about and going nowhere. Set your north star, then move with purpose toward it.

We talk about the organizational fallacy of optimizing for your organization instead of actual value among other things in this previous podcast episode.
How to Reduce Risk & Ship Your Game: Battling Organizational Fallacies 

Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways we can help you…

—>Courses built by game devs for game devs - check out “Succeeding in Game Production” HERE.

—>Regular deep dives on critical game development topics on the BBG podcast

—>We’ve helped many high-profile game studios save a ton of money & time through building clear vision and leveling up leadership. If you’d like to work with us, please reach out at [email protected].

"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."

-Henry Ford

"Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."

– Vince Lombardi