Goal Setting and Motivation


Goal setting and motivation

Goal setting and motivation of employees towards achieving goals is essential in order to drive performance. This blog aims to discuss this with some quality factual evidence to support the case.

All too often we overlook the contribution made to enterprise management by academic research. This post reproduces highlights of an excellent article by Fred C Lunenberg, published in the International Journal of Management, Business, and Administration

Extracts from “Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation” by Fred C. Lunenburg of Sam Houston State University:

“Goals have a pervasive influence on employee behaviour and performance in organisations and management practice. Nearly every modern organization has some form of goal setting in operation. Programs such as management by objectives (MBO), high-performance work practices (HPWPs), management information systems (MIS), benchmarking, stretch targets, as well as systems thinking and strategic planning, include the development of specific goals.

Goal setting is the underlying explanation for all major theories of work motivation. Managers widely accept goal setting as a means to improve and sustain performance. Based
on hundreds of studies, the major finding of goal setting is that individuals who are provided with specific, difficult but attainable goals perform better than those given easy, nonspecific, or no goals at all. At the same time, however, the individuals must have sufficient ability, accept the goals, and receive feedback related to performance.”

The rules of goal setting:

• Goals need to be specific
Specific goals (often quantified) let organization members know what to reach for and allow them to measure their own progress. Research indicates that specific goals help bring about other desirable organizational goals, such as reducing absenteeism, tardiness, and turnover.

• Goals Must Be Difficult but Attainable
Although organization members will work hard to reach challenging goals, they will only do so when the goals are within their capability.

• Goals Must Be Accepted
A powerful method of obtaining acceptance is to allow organization members to participate in the goal-setting process. In other words, participation in the goal-setting process tends to enhance goal commitment. Participation helps organization members better understand the goals, ensure that the goals are not unreasonable, and helps them achieve the goal.

• Feedback Must Be Provided on Goal Attainment
Feedback helps people determine how well they are doing. The same can be said for a work team, department, or organization. Performance feedback tends to encourage better performance. Feedback also helps people determine the nature of the adjustments to their performance that are required to improve.

• Deadlines Improve the Effectiveness of Goals
Deadlines serve as a time-control mechanism and increase the motivational impact of goals. Being aware that a deadline is approaching, the typical employee will invest more effort into completing the task. However, when deadlines are too tight, particularly with complex tasks, the quality of work may suffer.

• Learning Goals Lead to Higher Performance than Performance Goals
A person with a learning goal orientation wants to develop competence by mastering challenging situations. In contrast, the person with a performance goal orientation wants to demonstrate and validate competence by seeking favourable judgments. The learning goal orientation is particularly relevant in today’s work environment, which requires employees to be proactive, problem solve, be creative and open to new ideas, and adapt to new and changing situations.

One of the vital components of motivation or incentive programmes is communication. The article by Fred Kunenberg emphasises that goals must be clear and realistic. That can only be achieved by consulting with the individuals or teams who are being presented with the challenges. He goes on to say that goals must be accepted and progress regularly recorded. That underlines the need for effective dialogue and the sharing of information.

#motivation #incentives #goals #performance #communication