3 Goal Setting Lessons from the Hunger Games

Posted on March 30, 2012.

I may not be the target audience of the Hunger Games, but my inner teen self devoured the trilogy by Suzanne Collins. And yes, I’ve already seen the movie.  In fact, the movie started me thinking about goal setting. Let’s face it. If you don’t go about it the right way, setting goals could lead to the death and destruction of your team.

In the Hunger Games, a tyrannical leader sets unrealistic goals and creates an environment that breeds the worst kind of competition.  Sound familiar? How can you avoid leaving the same kind of carnage when you set goals?

  • Provide the resources necessary to attain stretch goals. In the Hunger Games, the tributes that couldn’t find weapons or food didn’t last too long.  Giving your team challenging goals without the tools they need to meet them will result in failure. Do they have the technology, staff, marketing dollars and other resources needed to meet the challenge?
  • Don’t encourage winning at any cost.  Even the heroine in the Hunger Games has a limit to what she would do to win. And she was fighting for her life. Once you’ve crossed that line and made it okay to do anything and everything to win, you’ve created an atmosphere of fear for anyone who isn’t willing to take the leap. Not to mention the potential consequences. Even Mr. “win at all cost”, Gordon Gekko ended up in prison.
  • Encourage Alliances. Our heroine in the Hunger Games forged an alliance that saved her life. Creating a team environment that pits one member against the other is destructive.  The competition should be the other guys in the market.  Establishing teams that share knowledge and experience will help you win and create a more collaborative culture.

Most people don’t come to work everyday fearing for their lives. But setting unrealistic goals, with zero resources and pitting teammate against teammate can sometimes feel that way.  Be careful or you too will have a rebellion on your hands.