How a goal tracking template helps teams achieve business goals

Pfizer faced one of its biggest challenges in 2020: quickly create a vaccine to save the world from a pandemic that brought everyone to their knees.

There were moments when the Pfizer team wondered whether they could really achieve what seemed impossible. Fast forward to 2022 and more than 300 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

How did the team accomplish this feat?

Angela Hwang, Pfizer’s head of biopharmaceuticals, shared that the team had a common goal, shared information, stayed on the same page, and took the next steps together. "

Changing our goal setting and problem-solving to match the issue at hand were probably the two greatest adaptations in leadership practices on this entire journey," says Hwang.

Goals help companies of all sizes accomplish big things. Research shows that only 5% of small business owners accomplished their business goals in 2020. Sure, 2020 was a roller coaster year for many businesses, but this shocking statistic sheds light on poor goal attainment strategies within businesses.

That’s why we’ve written this article. We want to help you use goal tracking templates that increase the chances of you achieving your goals.

What is goal tracking?

Business goals provide specific targets for teams to achieve within set time periods. A business can have various types of goals: financial goals, performance-based goals, outcome or process-oriented goals, etc.

Goals shouldn’t be confused with objectives, which are measurable short-term tactics used to achieve the big picture aim. Goals are long-term and cover a broader spectrum of outcomes for an organization. Therefore, what you’re trying to understand with goal tracking is how well your objectives are helping you fulfill the organization’s big picture goals.

Goal success depends on how well you understand why the goals are needed, what your business needs to accomplish those goals, team buy-in, communication, and effective goal tracking. Goal tracking is the process of keeping tabs on progress towards clearly defined goals. It ensures you either stick with the plan or adjust the plan in order to meet the organization’s goals.

There are a few common types of goal setting in the business world:

  • SMART goals: “SMART” is a simple, memorable acronym designed to help guide goal setting and stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely — key qualities for any business goal.
  • Team tracking goals: This type of goal setting is designed to track team member progress. These goals can be performance-related (e.g., “teammates will land at least one new client this quarter”), or more along the lines of personal development (e.g., “teammates will attend a conference this year to extend their professional network”). This type of goal setting can give managers measurable insights into how their teammates are doing, and where they may need additional support.
  • Project tracking goals: These goals follow the development and progress of projects. This gives everyone on the team a solid understanding of their role in the project. A benefit of project tracking goals is that they can help highlight bottlenecks if goals are not being met. This allows teams to swiftly identify and ultimately solve the issue so that the project can be executed to completion.

No matter the method, the idea is the same: Goal tracking helps you keep tabs on projects, team members, sales targets, and many other things that matter to your organization. Making sure that individual goals align with the greater goals of the organization can help team members understand the “why” behind their goals. When goals make sense to team members, it fosters a feeling of cohesiveness — everyone is on the same page and has a clear sense of overall purpose.

What is a goal tracking template?

A goal tracking template is a system that gives team members a bird’s-eye view of a project, as well as their responsibilities, in one place.

While these templates can vary based on the needs of your team, they generally include tasks, due dates, team member assignments, and some system of prioritization or status. Below is an example of what a goal tracking template might look like for a theoretical project.

Project: Develop Email Campaign

  • Task (Assignee) Due date [Status]
  • Develop messaging (Chris) May 14 [Complete]
  • Design graphics (Bob) May 14 [Complete]
  • Build HTML (Bob) May 16 [In progress]
  • Finalize messaging (Chris) May 16 [In progress]
  • Send test mailer (Mary) May 17 [Not started]
  • Finalize mailing list (Mary) May 18 [Not started]
  • Send mailer (Mary) May 19 [Not started]

The key to setting attainable goals is an effective template

Companies use goal tracking templates to help teams stay organized and efficient as they work towards achieving goals. These templates work well when there is:

  • Strategic goal alignment
  • A clear list of objectives and expectations
  • Reasonable deadlines
  • Regular progress reviews
  • A reward system
  • A schedule arranged by days and weeks
  • Built-in accountability

Combining templates with a good goal tracking process also provides clear documentation on everything required for goal attainment.

There are a variety of goal tracking tools to help you track your progress, keep everyone in the loop about goal progress, and provide a dashboard with a bird’s-eye view of key goal metrics. There are goal tracking templates for meetings, project management, budget management, and a wide range of business functions.

Goal tracking templates bring important milestones to the forefront

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel and father of the OKR goal setting methodology, once said, “It almost doesn’t matter what you know. Execution is what matters the most.” Goal tracking templates not only make teams aware of the goals they should be striving for, but they also facilitate proper execution of objectives.

Business goals can be divided into three categories: process goals, performance goals, and outcome goals. Some businesses focus less on outcome goals and more on process and performance goals. The result? Team members focus solely only on getting tasks done (process and performance) and neglect the outcomes that support the business’ strategic development.

There are goal tracking templates that make it possible for teams to achieve all three categories of business goals. These templates help you better align your teams with the organization’s outcome goals while prioritizing the process and performance goals they’ll need to complete. One way they do this is through a task hierarchy.

Applying a task hierarchy, also known as task nesting, is the process of creating multiple layers of tasks (subtasks) to break a larger task into smaller chunks. This process of dissecting larger tasks increases the likelihood of achieving goals, especially when teams are faced with complex projects.

As world-renowned leadership consultant Sabina Nawaz states (), “It’s great to dream big, but the way to achieve big is to start small — through micro habits.”

These micro habits, or micro tasks, make it easier to break big goals into daily goals that match your long-term goals. Here’s how:

Daily goals

It’s easier to accomplish a goal when you know what to do each day. Annual goals should be broken down into monthly goals, then into weekly goals, and finally into daily goals.

These short-term goals help you create a daily task list that helps you get small wins on your journey towards goal accomplishment. This daily task list is what helps you build momentum towards achieving your larger goals.

But daily goal setting can be tricky. RescueTime conducted a survey on daily goal setting, which revealed that most people set an average of four goals per day — but only 33% of people accomplish even half of their daily goals. That’s why it’s important to be realistic about what you can accomplish daily, and approach your daily goals as a guide rather than a set of strict rules.

The RescueTime team recommends setting up to three goals per day and giving yourself the freedom to not accomplish everything on your list. Less pressure increases your chances of getting results.

But how can you effectively track your daily goal progress? Daily goal tracking makes it easier to provide a system for keeping tabs on goal accomplishment. The best daily goal tracking tool will help you create accountability without micromanagement, know what’s happening with your team, and integrate with apps already in your tech stack.

Long-term goals

Your daily goals should always be set with your long-term goals in mind. Remember, the big picture long-term goals are what define your brand’s purpose, and your team needs daily goals to keep them on track towards fulfilling that purpose. Here are some tips you can share with your team to help create that alignment:

  1. Use a goal tracking tool to keep a running tally of daily tasks you’ve completed that relate to the long-term goal.
  2. Share your progress with your accountability partner.
  3. Have regular feedback sessions to keep on top of goal progress.

The benefits of an effective goal tracking template

  • You align your strategy with your tactics: It’s estimated that 67% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution. A McKinsey & Company study reveals that the implementation phase of a transformation strategy accounts for 35% of the value lost during the transformation. Strategies should be aligned with specific tactics so that everyone on your team is clear about expectations, their roles, and what’s required from them to make effective strategy implementation possible. A goal tracking template helps you clearly outline these tactics.
  • You execute your plan with fewer unknown variables: The process of creating a goal planning template makes it easier for you to see all the variables that impact your plan. Therefore, you’ll move forward with fewer unknowns and have clear action steps.
  • You’re regularly tracking progress: Progress tracking is the greatest benefit of a goal tracking template. You can easily check off when a task has been completed and see your progress towards your overall goal. Each member of your team will have a daily to-do list that works for them — no more overly complex Google Sheets files or Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
  • You focus on what’s important: It’s easy to get distracted when you’re focusing on your big long-term goal. A goal tracking template helps relieve that pressure so that you can focus on more immediate tasks. Chipping away at those tasks over time is what’s important for your team to have a clear action plan.

Tips to get the most out of your goal tracking template

There are several ways that you can maximize the utility of your goal tracking template and goal tracking initiatives. Below, we’ll cover some tips and best practices for using your templates to their greatest potential.

Let your goal tracking plan develop over time

Goals are flexible, not static. Change is the only constant in life and your goals should reflect the constant need for change. That’s why you should be open to adjusting your goal tracking plan over time, even as the business environment changes. A goal tracking template helps standardize goal tracking, but it also can be adjusted to suit your business’ changing needs.

Focus on critical milestones first

Your larger goal has been broken down into smaller achievable tasks. But how should you organize those tasks so that you deal with the most important ones first? Use the D-A-B framework to help you prioritize your to-do list:

D – Deadline: There’s a sequence to your tasks. You need to be aware of when each task should be completed so that you can set deadlines, especially if there are interdependencies among tasks.

A – Actionable projects: Some projects will have higher priorities than others. Tackle the projects that are most critical first.

B – Benchmarks: You’ll better understand how your team operates and what its priorities should be over time. This will help you set benchmarks based on previous performance. Those benchmarks can help you organize your tasks so that you can more readily achieve milestones.

Measure KPIs

Business leaders tend to focus a lot on lagging indicators when measuring KPIs. But both lagging and leading indicators are important. Lagging indicators are factors that are measured after the fact, and can help confirm long-term patterns. Leading indicators point toward the future, helping you understand how to produce desired results based on your current performance.

Be transparent

A McKinsey & Company study reveals that 63% of people “want their employer to provide more opportunities for purpose in their day-to-day work.” Purpose becomes clearer when team members understand the organization’s overarching goal, and when they can easily see other team members' goals. The Google Chrome example previously mentioned is evidence of that.

Leverage accountability as a motivator

A study conducted by the American Society of Training and Development finds that “you can boost your chances of success up to 95% if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person to whom you’ve made a commitment.” Accountability acts as a motivator for goal attainment. Consider pairing team members as goal accountability partners.

Range makes goal setting and goal tracking easy with templates

Goals are easier to accomplish when they’re broken into smaller tasks and provide team members with a clear understanding of their purpose.

Using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and notebooks to keep tabs on these smaller tasks only leads to headaches and frustration.

Editable goal setting templates and goal tracking templates provide a solution: an organized goal tracking sheet that works for you and each member of your team.

Range helps you track what matters as you work towards achieving your goals. You can track your team’s daily progress and share updates with company leaders. Try Range or find goal tracking software that works for you.

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