Constructive Goal Setting

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Recently while attending an industry function, discussion turned to the importance of goal setting if constructive outcomes are to be achieved.

Constructive goal setting is a delicate balance of five essential factors:

  1. The level of challenge that needs to be built into each goal so people are not demotivated because the goals are either  too easy or seemingly impossible to achieve.
  2. The degree to which the leader and team member jointly participate in the goal setting process. This is critical as the incidence of goal achievement  increases by 33% when jointly set.
  3. Goals need to be clear; a common mistake many leaders make is once the goal is set they fail to check the team member has clarity around the goal and what has to be achieved.
  4. The final check point is the acceptance of the goals set. A goal may have the right level of challenge, be set jointly and be clear yet, for various reasons, it may not be accepted by the team member.  As an example, a reason we come across quite often for the team member not fully accepting the goal is because they believe they do not have the right authority levels to be able to carry out the work required and their leader is not prepared to assign the right authority levels.
  5. The fifth and final factor is once set goals need to be emphasised by the leader.  So many goals are set and then not looked until the next performance appraisal.  It is essential that leaders devote time (at least quarterly) to review goals with each team member placing emphasis on assisting the team member understand their leader what expectations and standards you require.

Effective Goal Setting Steps

So what are characteristics of well-set constructive goals? Each goal must have:

  • ‘Line of sight’  to the organisation’s purpose (why)
  • Address both organisational and personal needs
  • Focus not only on results, there must be goals relating to expected behaviour
  • Specificity and demonstrate clear value to the organisation and the team member
  • Measures that provide the team member with feedback on progress towards the goal, not only when the goal has been achieved.

So many goals we see are not goals, they are intentions.  Contact us to find out more about how to develop intrinsic motivation in team members through constructive goal setting.

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