Principles of Goal-Setting

The principles of goal-setting are as follows:

1. Challenge: When setting goals, each goal should be made a challenge. If an assignment is easy and not viewed as very important – and if the manager or employee does not expect the accomplishment to be significant – then the effort may not be impressive.

Rewards typically increase for more difficult goals. If employees believe they will be well compensated or otherwise rewarded for achieving a challenging goal, that will boost their enthusiasm and their drive to get it done.

Setting SMART goals that are relevant links them closely to the rewards given for achieving challenging goals.

Relevant goals will further the aims of the organization, and these are the kinds of goals that most employers will be happy to reward.

2. Commitment: Goals must be understood and agreed upon if they are to be effective. Employees are more likely to “buy into” a goal if they feel they were part of creating that goal.

The notion of participative management rests on this idea of involving employees in setting goals and making decisions. Agreed goals lead to commitment.

This does riot mean that every goal has to be negotiated with and approved by employees. It does mean that goals should be consistent and in line with previous expectations and organizational concerns.

As long as the employee believes the goal is consistent with the goals of the company and believes that the person assigning the goal is credible, then the commitment should be there.

Interestingly, goal commitment and difficulty often work together. The harder the goal, the more commitment is required.

3. Feedback: An effective goal-setting must also include feedback. Feedback provides opportunities to clarify expectations, adjust goal difficulty, and gain recognition.

It is important to provide benchmark opportunities or targets, so individuals can determine for themselves how they are doing.

These regular progress reports, which measure specific success along the way, are particularly important where it is going to take a long time to reach a goal.

In these cases, break-down the goals into smaller chunks and link feedback to these intermediate milestones.

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