What’s more engaging – Individual Goals or Squads Goals, like the Spotify Model’s?

If a company wants to obtain excellent results, it is essential to have a high-performance team. For this, two elements must be present.

The first one is the people themselves: you need professionals with the right profile, in terms of skills. The second element is the team organization methodology. Among the available alternatives, the squad methodology stands out.

In this article, you will recall the concept behind this methodology, as well as understand why it is better or not to give a better chance to squad goals than individual goals.

Before you read the full article, you can check these topics on Spotify Model:

The importance of Squad for Spotify Model
Learn Organizational Agility from the Spotify Model
How to Increase your Team’s Performance with Spotify Model

What are Squads?


The fundamental concept behind the squad methodology is, as the name suggests, the very concept of the squad.

Just like a military squad, squads are units – that is, teams – formed to fulfill a mission, achieve a specific objective. Furthermore, two important characteristics of squads are multidisciplinarity and autonomy.

Why use Squads in a company

One of the most famous companies in implementing the squad methodology is Spotify. However, it’s not just big tech companies that benefit from using squads as a way to organize teams.

The use of squads allows collaborators involved in one of the units to have full focus on the mission assigned to them, instead of dividing their attention between several disconnected projects.

They also have the opportunity to follow the mission’s development from beginning to end, which brings a much stronger sense of purpose and engagement.

As the squads are multidisciplinary, they have a more three-dimensional view of the projects.

This makes it possible to more clearly identify where the problems are, what is not working, and what needs improvement. Thus, it is possible to produce superior quality deliveries.

Another important point is that the squads’ autonomy allows them to move forward with their projects without relying on external authorizations and approvals.

In this way, they are able to achieve a shorter delivery time, that is, work more quickly. Furthermore, autonomy motivates professionals, and motivated people produce more and better.

In summary, applying squads in Spotify and in any company is a way to organize high-performance teams, capable of generating deliveries with greater quality and efficiency.

How Squads are applied in Spotify

Squads on Spotify weren’t always structured this way. The company that previously adopted the Scrum framework, as it grew and increased the size of employees, realized that Scrum was no longer the ideal work model, but agile practices were.

In 2012 they decided to change the way the company was organized and created Squads. First, changing the figure from Scrum Master to Agile Coach and then from Scrum Team to Squads.

On Spotify, squads focus on small deliverables in order to avoid wasting time on long projects without constant validation, which in the end can become unfeasible.

Why squad goals are better

Squad goals are necessary to guide your overall business. It includes broad objectives that can be broken down into team projects and initiatives with individual key results.

1) Collaboration

Squad goals force workers to work together on projects. Because everyone is working toward the same end result, they’ll be more willing to work together.

When one person hits an obstacle, another can tag in, and in this way, your employees will balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses more naturally.

Over time in this environment, you’ll see higher levels of interaction and morale, which can boost productivity. Individual goals don’t support this level of camaraderie to the same degree.

2) More rewards

Squad goals tend to be bigger than individual goals; you might seek the completion of a massive project, rather than the completion of some small set of sub-tasks within that project.

Accordingly, when you hit those goals, the rewards are bigger. You’ll feel a higher sense of accomplishment, and you’ll want to reward yourselves proportionally. It also means completing those goals will be more valuable to the company as a whole.

3) More flexibility

Squad goals also have more potential paths for achievement. Because these goals are bigger, longer-term, and less micromanaged, there are more alternative routes that your employees can take to get there.

On the other hand, individual goals are usually created with a greater degree of specificity and direction, giving employees a more direct and rigid path toward achievement.

Additionally, there are opportunities to pivot and adjust if a team goal is found to be unrealistic or pursuing the wrong direction.

Why individual goals are better

Individual goals are important because they give direction to your employees. While squad goals are great for the overall direction, individual goals will allow your team members to take distinct paths to digest the larger goal and turn it into action.

Here are just a few reasons why individual goals can be a better option:

1) Aware of strengths and weaknesses

First, every member of your team is going to have unique strengths and weaknesses. Setting individual goals for each of these people allows you to create goals with their specific qualities in mind.

If you find yourself distracted all the time, set goals that encourage you to better focus.

If you aren’t sure what your team members’ strengths and weaknesses are, consider staging performance reviews to find out. Work with each individual to mutually analyze their recent performance and identify target areas for improvement.

2) Greater control of your work

Individual goals also give you more control over who’s working on what, which can be useful if you’re trying to coordinate the most efficient process for a team of people.

It also makes your teammates more accountable. When the team fails to meet a goal, blame can be shifted and apathy can set in. When you fail to meet an individual goal, there are no excuses to hide behind.

In line with this inherent accountability, you should establish rewards for those who meet their individual goals and consequences for those who don’t—even if those consequences only amount to a less-than-stellar performance review during your next round of evaluations.

3) More personal interest

As a general rule, people tend to invest themselves more fully in goals that were set specifically for them, rather than goals that were set for the entire group.

That doesn’t mean team-centric goals can’t encourage a similar degree of personal investment, but it does put them at a slight disadvantage.

You may also find your employees more willing to take charge of setting their own individual goals, based on personal passions, interests, or recognition of areas of weakness.

Goals: the most important part is alignment
When we talk about goals – whether squad or individual – the most important point is that they are aligned with organizational objectives and that those responsible recognize and understand this.

In other words, creating squad and individual goals is a more complex process than it seems. It depends on the general knowledge of the company, its strategy, and different areas.

It is also worth emphasizing the need for the involvement of the entire company, especially the leaders and managers responsible for managing goals.

GitScrum helps you get along with all Squads

GitScrum loves to bring all teams together and offers the best tools to help you reach the best result on time! Find your way to work with your Squad with GitScrum!

Leonardo Salles

Copywriter for GitScrum.