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When setting goals, is the sum of your team’s goals more than your total goal?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

When setting goals, is the sum of your team’s goals more than your total goal?

  • All the time. It helps me hedge on hitting my goal: 39.6%
  • Sometimes, but only for the most critical goals: 36.9%
  • Never. Their goals add up perfectly to my goal: 14.1%
  • Rarely. I only do it in extreme cases: 9.4%

Overallocation can be beneficial. The process of having subordinate goals add up to more than your group goal is called overallocation. Doing so can be beneficial. It stretches your team below you to deliver more while at the same time increasing the likelihood that you hit your team goals. But be careful: Too much overallocation of goals can frustrate your teams and make their goals unattainable. A few basic overallocation principles like using commit and stretch goals, ensuring goals are SMART, and explaining your approach to your team can go a long way toward making this a successful goal-setting strategy.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”