Managers, what’s the number one rule of your role?

It’s to bring out the best in your team, it’s that simple. That means fulfilling their potential, dialing up their work and life satisfaction, and delivering great results for the company.

Goal-setting underpins all of these motivational levers. To build genuine, authentic, and tailored personal development goals, managers should be wading into real-world data and co-creating targets with their teams. Pair this with realistic timelines and a framework for measurement, and you’re setting up for sustained success.

As a manager, it’s your job to give the team autonomy to carve out these goals but it's also your responsibility to connect the team's work with the organizational mission and strategy. As the team’s coach and guide, help them understand why their work is important. Effective goal setting illuminates the way. Managers should consider creating a culture where failure is accepted and the team is nurtured and supported toward achieving their goals.

Feeling overwhelmed? At Candor, we’re gathering data on thousands of real-world team dynamics and we’ve used that insight to build this guide for managers new and old. We’ll walk you through the techniques and get you unlocking great personal development goals for your team. Let's get started.

What’s in this guide:

  • Development goals should take inspo from ‘Teal’ organizations
  • Create space for personal development
  • Examples of personal development
  • Key takeaways

Development goals should take inspo from ‘Teal’ organizations

In his book ‘Reinventing Organizations’, Frederick LaLoux describes a ‘Teal’ state of organization culture. The Teal organization culture is a more powerful, soulful, and meaningful way to work together. The key characteristics of a Teal org:

1) Self-management: operates effectively, even at a large scale, with a system based on peer relationships, without the need for either hierarchy or consensus.

2) Wholeness: practices that invite us to reclaim our inner wholeness and bring all of who we are to work, instead of with a narrow “professional” self / “masculine resolve” etc.

3) Evolutionary purpose: organizations are seen as having a life and a sense of direction of their own. Instead of trying to predict and control the future, members of the organization are invited to listen in and understand what the organization wants to become, and what purpose it wants to serve.

To be clear, the wholesale company-wide adoption of all elements of a Teal organization is not the play for today. That’s probably not a one-person job! But we think borrowing certain aspects from Teal organizations does unlock huge potential for setting personal development goals that will inspire your team.

Let’s face it most personal development goals get lost in jargon, tied too heavily to profit & loss, and not designed with ‘whole person’ data. As a manager, your job is to create space for team members to autonomously create and determine their own personal development goals.

The challenge for managers lies in making space for their people’s personal development, with tight learning budgets and constant pressure to deliver strategic targets and deadlines. Unless this challenge is tackled, the best talent will find somewhere else to go.

Read more: Reinventing Organizations, Frederick LaLoux.

Create space for personal development

Most people either leave their job because of a bad boss or because their work feels disconnected from the company's mission. If talent feels undervalued, this is a surefire way to decrease their job satisfaction, and they will leave.

Space for personal development is so often put on the back-burners but it's key to driving up motivation, job satisfaction, and people unlocking promotions. Managers should be looking at ways to encourage their teams to build out personal development goals. Here’s some techniques to master it:

1 -Self-awareness and self-management start with Candor

Managers should be moving away from textbooks and into assessing real-world peer data to help their team find blind spots and barriers to personal growth.

Candor’s personal readmes give teams and managers a deep dive into how they like to work best. This myriad of ‘self-takes’ generates a profile that’s an ideal base for personal development and goal-setting. Managers and their people can reflect on how they work best, what motivates them, core values, ‘things they’d love to learn’. This creates the building blocks for goals where team members can autonomously develop their personal goals and consider their whole personality in the process.

Managers, you should be there to co-create, nurture and support towards achieving the goal but we’ve discovered that people respond best when they determine their targets.

Consider this prompt:


  • Invite the team to reflect on where they are today, what their current skills and the areas they want to develop.
  • Lean in to make their strengths stronger. Don’t focus on the weaknesses.

Where they need to get to:

  • Provide a safe space for your people to set the target.
  • Encourage them to bring their full self to work.
  • e.g. if presenting is the skillset, can they present passion projects to a smaller group to refine the skill?
  • Encourage the team member to listen in on the company's direction and blend this into their position, pay, and promotional targets.

2 - Think about measuring success

Build a framework for tracking and measuring the success of personal development goals. Without this, targets get lost and deprioritized and people don’t get the opportunity to reap the rewards when a goal is hit.

Try this framework for size:

1) Set A Timeline For Yourself
Providing an end date for the targets to be hit helps to keep persistence high, whilst motivation is low.

2) Reach For Milestones Along The Way

Some goals can span a full quarter or half-year, so setting milestones on the way to hitting the target is an effective way to measure progress. Managers should carve out 1:1 sessions with their team members to work through these milestones.

3) Track Your Progress (more on this later)
We’ll deep dive into this further in the guide but there needs to be a product and system in place to track goals. In a lo-fi way, this could even be Google sheets.

4) Set Specific Times To Measure Your Progress

Goal obsession isn’t healthy and as the manager, it's your job to set the guardrails around when goals are measured. We’d recommend agreeing on a cadence with the team members either on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.

5) Find accountability partners for your team

This is key and if set up correctly, will dial up the autonomy of goal-setting within your team dynamics. Use Candor's personal readmes to understand which team members would benefit from pairing up. Then, they should hold each other accountable to move towards those personal development goals.

3 - Set out what you want to achieve

Before setting goals, managers should encourage their teams to dive deep into what motivates them and in what areas they want to strengthen. This is a richer base to cultivate goals from. With Candor's personal readmes, your people can start with the self-Takes on things that deeply motivate them, the best environment for them to work in, how they get energized at work, or what their preferred feedback method is. These self-takes will shine a light on the motivational factors that should underpin their goals.

With readme data to hand, managers and team members can work together to co-create powerful personal development goals. Give your people the space and autonomy to develop them but encourage your people to think about what they want to achieve and work back. Is it: a promotion, specific category experience, or a certificate for an industry-recognized course?

4- Give your team autonomy to develop their own goals

Creating an environment and culture where autonomy is promoted will lead to higher job satisfaction for your people. The same logic should be applied to goal-setting. Nobody is going to respond well to lofty goals that have been set for them. As Steve Jobs says, “it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do”.

Freeing up time for your team to be self-sufficient with goal-setting, frees up your time to focus on nurturing and supporting them. Work with your people and be clear about what is their responsibility to draw up and what you’ll support them with in terms of checking in and measuring their personal development.

5 - Ensure personal development goals are time-bound

All personal development goals should be time-bound. As a manager, it’s your job to help team members set a realistic timeframe, and milestones for improvement and offer to be an accountability partner.  

6 - Track progress

A simple system around tracking will take a huge burden off the team (and you) in measuring their goals. Using the timelines set by the team and the goals they want to move forwards, get a template up and running that helps you and the team get into the nitty gritty. It could be Notion, Miro, Trello, or even Google Sheets - invite your team into the conversation and build a system that works for your context.

If you’re looking for inspo, check out management expert Lara Hogan’s, wealth of tools on goal tracking.

7- Provide guidance and support

Candor working with me guides will give managers valuable insight into how team members best receive feedback. Goals aren’t there to create cognitive dissonance, they’re gravitational pulls toward better individual, team, and company performance. If goals aren’t being reached, that could equally mean they’ve been set with the right amount of ambition.

Managers should nurture and support through regular discussion and feedback techniques to keep team members on track. This will create a culture where team members feel confident the goal is there to improve them, rather than hang over them as an expectation of performance.

Read more: 8 Tips on Giving Better Feedback

8 - Work hard to create psychological safety

It's like walking a tightrope. As a manager, you want to foster a culture of success but inevitably personal development goals will be missed. Make failure acceptable, and show that the result might sometimes be missed but the journey from A to B still shows progress. Balancing a culture of performance and learning is the trick. Personal development goals should stretch a team member's performance so it hits that potential threshold but that won’t happen every time. And that’s ok. The key thing is creating a culture of learning from mistakes, where missed goals turn into opportunities for reflection and improvement.

If team members are hitting their goals too quickly, then they might not be stretching enough to grow. Create a culture where goals are set high, sometimes missed, but self-reflection and learning are rewarded.

Read more: How To Create Psychological Safety For Your Team

Examples of Personal Development goals

Just a starter for 10 but here’s some examples of personal development goals to inspire you during 121s with your team:

  • Improve my time management skills and reduce the number of missed deadlines by 50% within three months. Use Pomodoro timers to help manage procrastination.
  • Develop and nurture my EQ through monthly journaling and self-takes on Candor readmes across 6 months.
  • Build fluency in python coding language within 6 months and implement my skills on a live client project in 9 months.
  • Become better at saying no. I’ll measure this through day-to-day capacity and in my daily mood reflections
  • Learn German outside of work to assist with translation services within 6 months. Visit Germany 3 times within this window for practice.
  • Protect my work-life balance and give more time to my children in the evenings, especially on Fridays when I pick them up from school. I’ll measure this based on my average hours across the week in 3 months.

Key Takeaways

  • The number one role of a manager is to bring out the best in their team.
  • Goal setting, when done correctly, is the best way to maximize your people's potential.
  • To build genuine, authentic, and tailored personal development goals, managers should be wading into real-world peer data and co-creating targets with their teams.
  • When co-creating your team’s personal development goals, take inspiration from teal organizations. This is the best way to build a foundation for genuine, helpful, and inspiring goal-setting.
  • To borrow principles from Teal thinking, managers need to consider how they connect the project work with the organizational mission and strategy.
  • When helping to co-create goals managers should consider: starting with Candor, applying measurement, setting out the north star achievement, providing autonomy, giving deadlines, tracking progress, offering support, and making failure acceptable.

Increase your team's trust and performance with shareable personal readmes that express each other's needs and create a culture of social peer-to-peer feedback. Claim your free Candor profile today.

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