Visible Goal Setting: 4 Steps to Better Goals

June 29, 2023
person holding up a magnifying glass wearing a pinstriped suit

In the movie Office Space, employees are expected to churn out pointless reports, work on Saturdays, and conduct work that doesn’t have any personal meaning to them. The result is a chaotic workplace with people who do very little and care very little (“I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be!”). While the movie is a parody, it hits on an essential truth: It’s vital for your people to understand and care about what they’re doing.

When people feel as if they’re a part of something—a bigger goal—they’re more likely to want to contribute. If they understand their role in achieving this greater goal, they can move forward with clarity. This is all part of inclusivity and trust—inviting your people to be part of the company’s successes (and setbacks). Inviting them to have real stakes in the work. A recent study shows that, “employees in high-trust work environments were a whopping 76% more engaged than employees from low-trust environments.”

On the other hand, when the finish line isn’t clear and a company’s path is not transparent, it’s challenging to motivate people to take action. That’s why it’s crucial to practice visible goal-setting—establishing goals that are widely supported, clear, and actionable. It’s also critical for each person to understand how their work contributes to these goals.

How do you go about setting transparent, visible goals?

Democratize Goal Setting

If possible, gather perspectives, ideas, and feedback before establishing goals for your team (or, in some cases, the company as a whole). This can help increase buy-in from your team and ensure everyone is on the same page. Consider all options and perspectives before making a decision.

Make Your Goals Visible and Clear

Once you’ve established your goals, make them visible to everyone in the company. This can be through a company-wide email, a meeting, or even a physical progress chart. The point is to make sure everyone understands what they’re working towards, and that the goals are transparent, clear, and actionable. If goals are not clear, people will have a hard time understanding what they need to do to achieve them.

Make Sure Everyone Understands Their Role

It’s essential for each of your team members to understand their role in the bigger picture. How does their work contribute to the team’s—and company’s—overarching goals? Do they need to modify their behavior or approach to better align with these goals? When each person has a clear understanding of expectations and how their work fits into the broader context, they will be better equipped to move forward with clarity and confidence.

Track Progress and Celebrate Successes

To keep everyone motivated, track progress towards your goals and celebrate successes along the way. This helps maintain momentum and shows your team that their hard work is paying off. Consider setting up a scoreboard or progress tracker and regularly update everyone on how you’re doing. This demonstrates clarity and direction at every step of the process: transparency in goal-setting AND transparency in progress.

Course Correct If Necessary

Sometimes, goals turn out to be off-base or misaligned. When that happens, it’s a good idea to have an honest conversation with your team. What has worked, and what hasn’t? Does the main goal need to be modified, or the route you’re taking to get there? There’s no shame in course correcting if you’re not achieving the outcomes you expected. Reassess, brainstorm together, and collaborate on a new strategy to move forward.


Setting visible, transparent goals can create a sense of purpose and direction for your team, and help them understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture. When your people don’t have stakes in the company’s success, they probably won’t feel motivated to put forth their best effort—much like the unappreciated workers in Office Space. Foster a culture of accountability and inclusivity by involving your team in goal-setting from the beginning and creating clear, actionable goals. You’re all in this together.

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