5 Reasons Your Team Isn’t Crushing Their Goals

If you’re like most leaders, you have moments where you get frustrated with your team because they miss goals.

It’s never been more important for your team to crush their goals. It’s also never been more difficult.

Church buildings are closed or at limited capacity, organizations are having to change strategy constantly, and you’re leading in a world you never thought you would lead.

As a result, many teams feel disoriented, which makes missing targets or objectives even more likely. And speaking of targets and objectives, how do you even know what to shoot for in an environment as confusing as the environment right now?

All of these are great questions, and fortunately, there are answers.

After leading teams for over two decades, here are five possible reasons your team isn’t crushing their goals.

The solution for many these issues is a framework that I call “Results-Based Leadership” and I outline it in-depth inside of my Lead A Better Team course here!

1. You don’t have a clearly owned mission, vision, and set of values

Your mission, vision and values decide how and in what direction your team runs when you aren’t around.

Most organizations know enough to throw up a mission statement and set of values on the wall, but it usually doesn’t make it into the hearts of the team. What’s on the wall often isn’t owned down the hall.

The same with cultural values. So many leaders take time to try to define the culture they want, but often there’s a big gap between the culture they want and the culture they have. In addition, most staff members couldn’t name more than one cultural value their organization has embraced.

So, how can you tell if your team actually owns your mission, vision and cultural values?

Here’s a little test: During your next team meeting, ask your team if they can tell you your company values and mission and vision without looking them up.

If they can’t, you know there’s work to do. Don’t get discouraged. When this exercise is conducted at major companies, often the executive leadership team can’t fully state the mission, vision or values.

When mission, vision and values aren’t owned or shared, your team will move in a thousand different directions.

If you would like to see the simple 3-step process I use to create better cultural value statements, you can find it here.  Defining your values is the first step to having your team own them.

2. You don’t have a clear strategy

Mission, vision and values have a long shelf-life.

Strategy, not so much. And that’s critical because your strategy is how you plan to accomplish your mission.

For almost every organization, COVID threw a wrench (or nuclear bomb) into strategy. And with no end in sight to the crisis, a return to your old strategy is likely premature.

As much as you can’t have certainty in this season, it’s important to have clarity.

Part of my strategy prior to COVID was speaking at live conferences and events. When COVID shut down travel, my team and I pivoted overnight to become a 100% digital company for the indefinite future. Churches moved online. Restaurants moved to take out and patios.

The mission stays the same. Strategy changes.

In fact, in times of rapid change, quick pivots on strategy preserve the mission.

If you haven’t clarified your strategy recently (even if it’s a strategy for the next 30 days), do it.

No team can own what it doesn’t understand.

3. You don’t have a clear goal

Once you decide how you are going to accomplish your mission, you need to decide how much. 

A lot of leaders naturally answer that question by telling their teams what they want is ‘more’—more people, more giving, more outreach, more sales, more clients.

Having more as a goal demotivates your team, largely because you’ll never hit it.

You can’t hit more.

Eventually, your team feels like the kid who brings home a straight-A report card, only to have the parent say “Why not A+?” And returning next semester with an A+ hears, “What happened to the bonus marks?”

Who doesn’t want to quit in that environment?

So define it. What does more look like?

1 person? 100 people? 2% growth? 20 growth%? 200 growth%?

Then when you hit it, celebrate it.

I share more details on this inside Lead A Better Team here!

4. You’re focusing on lag measures, not lead measures

Most leaders spend the majority of their time focusing on measures that they have no control over—lag measures. 

Lag measures include last week’s attendance, last month’s giving, yesterday’s sales and last year’s growth. Most leaders get the numbers, feel they’re not quite good enough, and tell their teams to do better.

The problem is that while these measures are great for telling you how your organization has done or is doing, you can’t change them. They’re history. 

A better option is to look at lead measures. Lead measures are things that you can control that ultimately impact the lag measures. 

Lead measures might include focusing on the number of first-time guests instead of just attendance, or turning first-time guests into second-time guests, or changing the digital giving options to make it easier for someone to give.  

Your team will never crush their goals if they’re focused on what they can’t change instead of what they can change.

5. You don’t hold anyone accountable

Of all of the things on this list, this is the one that’s the hardest for most leaders, but also gives the biggest return. I know, because I’ve been on both sides of the challenge—not wanting to hold people accountable (and doing it poorly), and then learning how to do it well.

When a team member misses a goal, leaders utter two phrases that create a complete lack of accountability.

1. “That’s okay.”

No, it’s not ok that they missed the deadline and the rest of the team didn’t. Stop acting like it is.

2. _________ (silence)

Many leaders don’t say a thing when someone missed their goals, because they didn’t know, didn’t care or were too afraid.

Both are deadly.

Ironically, holding people accountable in a healthy way motivates people rather than demotivates them. And your best leaders love teams that are accountable. They want to make progress.  I’ll have more to say about that in a future post.

Leaders who fail to hold team members accountable always end up with inferior teams because the best leaders leave.

What goals are you hoping to hit? 

I know 2021 has been hard, but we still need to take ground.

In what ways do you hope to win by the end of the year? Leave a comment below!

5 Reasons Your Team Isn’t Crushing Their Goals


  1. Chuck on July 18, 2021 at 6:05 am

    Pardon my directness here, but these goals, whatever they may be, are they the reason we do this, or do they somehow help us reach the world for Jesus? I personally could fare less if my team or group or class grew the most or did the most or gave the most. Those who brag about that internally or externally are pretty much right up there with Pharisees. I’d much rather ask whether this goal or that project is going to further the Gospel and foster authentic community. Jesus wouldn’t brag or post that he won 99. He’d go looking for the one. Said so himself.

    • Chuck on July 18, 2021 at 6:06 am

      Sorry that’s CARE less….not fare less

      • Matt Stieger on July 21, 2021 at 11:09 am

        Chuck, it seems to me that Jesus built an entire mission strategy on developing an effective team of disciples that he could hand the community of the church off to. I don’t read this post and bragging about the 99. I read this post as to how we can lead teams that can carry the gospel further faster. The more effective teams we have as church leaders, the healthier our mission movement becomes. Of course, my job is to seek and save the lost. But as a leader of a team, I can reach more and seek more by helping my team all do that well, not just me. This post was very challenging to clarify if I am helping our team make the most significant kingdom difference possible.

  2. Christopher White on August 8, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    I think the paradigm is wrong. I loathe “smart” goals with a fiery passion. I served a church that went all corporate with staff and “smart” goals and as a result created a toxic atmosphere for staff. The “goals” should not be held by individual staff, but by the church. The church sets and owns the goal, it is the body of Christ that fulfills the mission and the Body of Christ that is accountable for its goals. The role of staff is to share their ministry to help their church accomplish its mission. Shared responsibility, means shared accountability and sharing the results both good and bad. This prevents bullying of staff and scapegoating when things dont go as planned.
    Corporate methodology is antithetical to the gospel and changes the church for the worst.

  3. Nate on August 7, 2020 at 11:10 pm

    Thank you. I’ve downloaded the free PDF and watched the two teaching videos. Very helpful. I was wondering if you could provide some guidance on how to actually keep the team accountable please? I am definitely guilty of saying “that’s OK” when it’s not and also not saying anything about the lack of results. Other than the steps you mention in the PDF of regularly checking up on them and asking about the progress, what would you advise we do when they still fail to meet their goal, even after the weekly follow-ups? I know that my tendency is to be nice (probably too nice).. So I’m wondering what would be an effective way of motivating that person to fulfill his/her goals. Should there be some kind of a reward/punishment system? Bonus? Pay cut?

    Thank you.

  4. Darrel on August 7, 2020 at 10:51 am

    How about when the goals we set are not God’s goals. Where does prayer and discernment fit in with setting goals?

  5. Mahamba Wa-ibera Evariste on August 7, 2020 at 10:21 am

    I will continue to apply your teachings as I will be preparing my team for reaching the goals of Ebenezer Evangelical Church International as we are focusing in serving the Lord Jesus nationally in the Democratic Republic of Congo

  6. Mark on August 7, 2020 at 8:09 am

    You did not give people enough information. Holding back information, lying to them, or only providing 1% of the information needed and expecting perfection is a bit unrealistic yet frequently occurs.

    You gave them an unattainable goal. Too often the bar is set so high that working nonstop every day of every week would still not get close to it. In this case, you have burned people out and still told them they are failures.

    You abused them by demanding absolute perfection while yelling at them, cursing at them, and then giving them the silent treatment. Under these conditions, it is very hard to keep working at 100% to achieve the goal.

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