Execution excellence is one of the top challenges leaders face globally—90% of them fail to achieve their goals. In addition, two-thirds of large organizations globally struggle to implement their strategies.

Many leaders understand what needs to be done within their organization. But how to fulfill that objective is often the challenging part. Establishing the right department goal and roadmap is key to overcoming companies’ execution challenges and obstacles.

If done right, department goals must be aligned closely with company objectives. The results? Workforce members understand what is expected of them, and they are more likely to achieve goals when they work collectively as a cohesive team.

Here’s your guide on how to set department goals. Learn what department goals are and why they are essential and review a five-step plan to actually execute them.

What Is a Department Goal?

A department goal is a specific achievement you would like your department to reach. A good department goal is:

  • Clearly defined and measurable. Defining measurable goals allows you to track progress and make adjustments where necessary to stay on course.
  • Consistent with the organization’s strategy and mission. Alignment ensures your department is helping the company move forward in the right direction.

Why Are Department Goals Important?

Department goals are essential because they:

  • Unify workforce members with a common direction. A department goal encourages individuals to work collectively towards one mission and vision. It helps define a department’s purpose and how that purpose supports the company.
  • Enable departments to establish meaningful expectations. For example, the level of quality each team member must achieve for the department. What success and winning look like. These statements help to set expectations and encourage individuals to learn, grow, and contribute.
  • Promote accountability. Having shared goals drives commitment and accountability among workforce members. According to global research, 72% of leaders believe accountability is essential to business success. Additionally, 91% of surveyed staff members indicated accountability as their employer’s top leadership development need.

What Are Examples of Good Department Goals?

Some examples of goals that align with the vision and mission of the organization include:

  • Improving project completion by X% by the end of October. Perhaps one current company initiative is enhancing communication between team members and departments. This PM goal could focus on better streamlining projects and boosting efficiency by X%.
  • Increasing customer conversion rate by X% by the end of Q3. This can work well with a company objective to boost margins and customer satisfaction. A department may work on this goal by distributing evaluations to clients, tracking feedback, and finding actionable ways to address important issues and opportunities.

department meeting

5 Actionable Tips on How to Set the Right Department Goal

Review these five tips that outline how to set a department goal that can create more value for the overall enterprise.

1. Evaluate Company Goals

Goals exist as a means to inspire growth and opportunity for an organization or business. Department goals support the overall company’s vision by applying to how specific teams and members can contribute to the organization’s success.

When creating a department goal, look at the company-wide goals and identify the goals that your department can support. Some factors to consider when setting department goals are

  • Urgency: How soon does the company goal need to be achieved? For example, if a company goal is to reach 80% billable utilization across all teams by the end of the quarter, your department may prioritize this objective and create an immediate plan of action.
  • Connection: There may be an organizational goal that directly relates to what your department does. If the goal is to decrease employee turnover, the HR department may map out departmental goals to drive retention.
  • Growth: Look for an opportunity to create a goal that will help the business grow. Consider a company objective that aims to improve communication across teams. If one department has already created a phenomenal communication process and has the data to prove it, that leader can share insights with other department teams to help bolster the overarching organizational goal.

2. Perform a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a framework that examines the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of your department. This data can serve as a helpful brainstorming tool to develop new department goal ideas.

To start, discuss the following key areas with your department:

  • Strengths: What are we good at, and what capabilities and resources (personnel, space, technology) do we have? How can we leverage these assets?
  • Weaknesses: What are we not doing well? What resources do we lack? What pain points or roadblocks inhibit us from doing our best work?
  • Opportunities: What positive changes can we expect to unfold in the coming year? How can our department help support those changes and maintain the company’s competitive advantage?
  • Threats: What vulnerabilities, issues, and risks might we encounter in the coming year? What are other departments doing that we aren’t? What changes can our department expect in the coming years that may negatively impact us? Discuss with your department how you might create some goals and action plans to mitigate or turn these risks into opportunities.
Learn how CMOE's teamwork programs can assist teams in overcoming common challenges and unlock formulas for success.

3. Agree on a Goal Based on the SMART Framework

Once you’ve brainstormed possible goals, collaborate with your team to choose a few critical goals that everyone wants to strive to achieve. To ensure you are making the right choice, lean on SMART goal setting.

The SMART framework taps into five key elements:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Aligned
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

This goal-setting method enables your department to build actionable plans that support your goal. Studies show 76% of individuals who leverage the SMART process are more likely to achieve their goals. This is 33% higher than those who do not leverage that framework.


How clear and well-defined is your goal? The more specific your goal is, the more likely your team members can effectively plan and execute it.

For example, “improving project management” is a rather broad goal. But “improving project management completion by 30% by the end of Q3” provides more context and specificity.


Is the goal measurable? Can you set up and track specific metrics? Metrics vary depending on the project.

Here are a few examples of types of projects/goals and relevant metrics:

  • Number of leads
  • Improve internet exposure and ratings
  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Employee satisfaction scores
  • Cost reduction
  • Enhance managing


Does the goal align with the team, department, and organizational direction? If you’ve reviewed the first tip on this list with your team, then all should be well here.

This area is also an opportunity for your department to discuss how staff members can collaborate or contribute to the goals of other teams. Taking this action further helps unify departments and creates an enterprise mindset rather than a silo mindset.


Is the goal workable or unattainable? Revisit your SWOT analysis—are your department’s resources and capabilities enough to carry out the goal?


Is there a clear deadline to aim for? Having one in place will motivate your team to prioritize accordingly and stay focused on key goal-related tasks.

Be sure to establish deadlines for milestones to enhance accountability further.

4. Leverage Goal Management Software

People are 42% more likely to achieve goals when they record them. Using goal management software allows team members to record their goals and track their progress. It also makes progress visible for colleagues and leaders.

When everyone has direct access to the goal pipeline, this maintains accountability for their responsibilities. Goal management software provides a bird’s-eye view of individual projects and assigns tasks to relevant team members.

5. Follow Up Regularly

Have regular conversations and coaching sessions with department members to review the progression of the goal. The purposes of ongoing follow-up include:

  • Maintaining accountability
  • Discussing any roadblocks or issues
  • Identifying opportunities to adjust and make improvements to the action plan
  • Recognizing progress and success (organizations who offer recognition have 14% higher engagement, productivity, and performance levels)

Establish Relevant and Measurable Goals with CMOE

For more guidance on delivering a department goal, enroll in CMOE’s Leadership Development Programs. These training programs can help leaders at all levels. The goal is to help create an aligned organization that delivers on expectations and drives an organization’s competitive advantage.

Learn more about our programs and contact our team if you have any questions.

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About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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