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Setting goals

 

Disciplines > Human Resources > Performance Management > Setting goals

Description | Development | Discussion | See also

 

Goal-setting is the process whereby a person is motivated to achieve a given target.

Description

Setting goals

Goals provide specific objectives and target that a person is trying to achieve, and should be clear, challenging and achievable.

Useful concepts when considering goals include:

  • Goal specificity: The specification and clarity of the goal.
  • Goal difficulty: The level of performance required to achieve the goal.
  • Goal intensity: Process of setting the goal or of determining how to reach it.
  • Goal commitment: The effort used to achieve a goal.

Goals may be set in a formal context where all activity is agreed for a specific period. They are often set informally and sometime very unclearly -- every time you ask somebody for something that will require them to take time, you are setting goals.

Monitoring progress

Once goals are set, progress towards achieving them may be monitored on a regular basis. This may be done formally, with reporting of specific achievements and showing of quantitative metrics. It may also be done informally, for example through conversation and simple meetings.

Feedback

Feedback is important to enable the person learn where they are relative to their goals. This may be given in alignment with monitoring. It is important for motivation that feedback is presented in a way that leaves the person with a positive motivation to achieve the goals.

Discussion

Expectancy Theory predicts that people will perform well in easy jobs and not so well in hard jobs.

Goal-Setting Theory predicts that:

  • A committed person will increase their performance to cope with the difficulties of a hard job.
  • Even committed people have their limits of performance, which will flatten off.
  • Less committed people will give a minimum performance, not rising to the challenge.

Criticisms of goal-setting include that it:

  • ...is complex and difficult to sustain.
  • ...works well for simple jobs, but less-well for complex jobs.
  • ...encourages game playing.
  • ...is used as a control device to monitor performance.
  • ...can become an obsession.

See also

Goal-Setting Theory

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