Founder’s Corner #11: Do You Know Your Team’s Goals?

By Max Thomas

Goals. Daily we read about them, talk about them, hear how important they are and, more often than not, wonder why we don’t set more of them ourselves. I know this from experience all too well.

So, starting last fall I took a new approach to setting individual goals as part of Thunder’s annual review process. From a management perspective, I wanted to set into motion the belief that an investment in individual team members results in a larger return, not only for the individual but also for the company as a whole. From a personal perspective, I wanted to invest in individual employees in a way that supported their personal and career growth, particularly in regard to their work at Thunder and the interactive marketing industry.

When I shared my plan to “invest” in Thunder’s team members in this way, one-on-one, some of the peer skepticism I encountered was that this would prove to be too much work. While I appreciated these observations, the process was actually quite easy. This was primarily because I let the team members define their goals; they did all the work, I just helped set a basic framework. And given the end result, it’s proven to be an exercise that is well worth the returns to the individual and to the company. So much so that what started as an experiment with a few team members is growing so that soon the entire team will have six-month personal and professional goals.

In the end, the surprise for me was that in the process of defining their career goals, the team members I worked with shared their goals and plans for how to improve their own and their team’s performance to support the company in ways we hadn’t even thought of when talking together as a group. It was a win-win-win (personal, professional and company) on all counts.

To see how we structured the six-month goal process and hear first-hand from some Thunder team members, please check out the video below. If this inspires you, please give it a whirl and let me know how it went (leave a comment below or tweet me @thundermax). We love to learn from other companies and what they’re doing to invest in their employees and the company overall! So, what are your team’s goals?


Max Thomas: Max Thomas here. Welcome to this month’s Founder’s Corner. Today’s topic are goals and how investing in individuals in a company leads to a greater return in the company overall.

So here’s what I’m talking about. At Thunder, we started implementing what we call six month goals, and those six months goals are where we actually work with an individual to identify their personal and their professional goals.

So here’s what I mean. The idea is that we help the individual define what are at least three personal goals that matter to them in terms of their own career development and the development of who they are. It can be whatever they want as long as it’s within the general career path of what they’re doing.

Then the professional goals are what we call Thunder goals because they’re goals that relate to what they are doing at the company and how they can do their job better or explore new areas. It all depends on the person.

Now the idea behind this is that we’re actually investing in the team member. We’re investing in the person, and that’s an awesome thing because you’re investing in a person. That has a ripple effect of benefits for their lives and the other people in their lives. But what it also does is it positively impacts the company because that investment in the individuals leads to a greater return to the company overall.

And here’s what I’m talking about. If you identify or work with someone to identify their goals, you might learn things you didn’t know before as a manager or as a business owner. You might also find new areas of interest that they have that they want to explore, that can take them further in their career and can also have an amazing impact on the people they work with and the company, in this case being Thunder.

Georgia Hitchcock: I think it’s really fantastic that both Max and Thunder as a company are inspiring us and challenging us to meet these six month goals on both a personal level and a company level.

Ashley Ward: …and help encourage us to put our minds to goals and long-term goals, where we want to be and how we can grow, and not just for ourselves but for the company as a whole.

Shawn Massie: I think it’s going to help all of us here deliver stronger campaigns for Thunder.

Ashley Ward: Most all of my goals are educational focused. You can never stop learning.

Max Thomas: So when I talk with other business owners or managers and I share what we do, they say, “Man that’s a lot of time. You really invest that much time in people?” And actually it’s pretty easy, because if you set a framework and a structure, the people tell you what their goals are. All you have to do is help guide the process and what the parameters are, and you’ll be amazed at how much you learn.

So let me sort of walk you through what we’re talking about with personal and what we call Thunder goals. So here’s a very fancy spreadsheet, right?

But the idea is that there are six month goals, and we just have two columns going — one with personal and then one with Thunder. It’s very specific. We put here topic because the idea is: What is the general goal or the general topic? And then the actual goal, because anyone can say, “Yeah, I want to be a better manager, or I want to be a better marketer or I want to be better at Facebook ads.” But that doesn’t mean anything if you can’t measure it. So we want something very specific as the goal.

So here’s an example. Let’s say someone says their personal goal is, “I want to speak at a conference.” Well, work with the individual to determine what is the actual deliverable. Is it that, in six months, that individual will have spoken at a conference, been selected and spoken at a conference? Or will it be that they have pitched to three different conferences?

Shawn Massie: One of my personal six month goals was to get certified in Google Analytics. I’ve already achieved that, and I’m hoping that I can start giving better reports to some of my clients with the certification.

Ashley Ward: One of my most recent ones that I’m currently working on is taking a Distilled U course for keyword research and applying it to one of our campaigns. So that’s in the process right now, and I’m looking forward to the outcome.

Georgia Hitchcock: One of my personal goals is to try and get out there and speak at some industry conferences or meet-ups. I’ve definitely been pitching and trying to be a little bit more strategic about how I’m going about things. So hopefully, in the very near future, you’ll be seeing me speaking.

Max Thomas: So you get the idea of what I mean. It’s very specific to the person. The more specific the goal is then the easier it is to check in midway through and see how it’s going and also have an actual deliverable at the end of six months so there’s a sense of accomplishment and you can actually tell the person has made advancement, and they feel that ownership and that empowerment.

So you can see how it flows through for personal and then how it would flow through for a Thunder goal. Maybe it’s getting Google certified, maybe it’s taking a class to learn a new skill or advancing a skill set in Excel, or maybe it’s learning how to be a better manager. It all depends on the person.

So we’ve had a lot of success with this. We’re on our first round of this. As a manager and as a business owner, I’ve been blown away by what I’ve learned from working with my team members in this way. It’s been really eye opening and inspiring to me.

So to recap what we’ve learned today, again the topic is six month goals, personal and professional, and how that investment in the individual leads to a greater return in the person and the company overall. We also went through the process of how we structured this, and then we heard from people who have gone through the process, to hear their feedback. As you can see, it leads to a lot of learning and a lot of goal setting on a personal and a professional level that benefits everyone involved.

Thanks for checking in. I look forward to seeing you next month.

Read all of our Founder’s Corner posts.

Share with Your Colleagues:
Max Thomas

By Max Thomas

Max Thomas is ThunderActive’s founder. He loves new ideas, laughing, shoes, personal style, and art.

Wanna connect? See you on Twitter or Foursquare.