Setting goals in the proper fashion is key to increasing the motivation of employees. If goal setting is deployed in a clear and distinct manner, it can assist in increasing attendance, productivity, and ultimately motivate the employee to achieve higher goals. When setting goals for yourself or others, it is key to be specific and concrete. The explicit example of goal setting that I will be honing in on is the use of SMART Goals. This is the goal setting structure that Pratt & Whitney utilizes and it has been proven to be successful, in my own experience.
“For goal setting to be most successful, the goals themselves should posses certain qualities represented by the acronym SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (Rubin, 2002).” (Aamodt, p. 338) When one is creating goals in the workplace, it is imperative to have as little ambiguity as possible. Establishing specific goals and guidelines makes it easy for an employee to understand what they need to achieve. This is the type of goal setting construct that is used at Pratt & Whitney. Pratt and Whitney has a tool called the PFT, Performance Feedback Tool. This tool is used to annually lay out our goals, as well as to obtain feedback from customers about our performance. Each year our management and supervision creates overarching, yet clear and defined goals, which every individual needs to complete by years end. For example, each year we have to document in Pratt & Whitney’s PFT tool that we will take four Business Practice Ethic Courses (BPEC’s); the requirement being that one BPEC needs to be completed each quarter. Being specific with goal setting makes it clear in an employee’s mind of what they need to achieve, and does not cause an employee to question what they need to accomplish. In the case of the BPEC Course requirement, it is clear cut what the employee needs to complete, as well as the timeframe it needs to be completed in.
Goals must also be measurable. If an employee is to improve their performance or challenge themselves, it is of great importance to set a specific timeframe in which the goal needs to be completed. For instance, one specific and measurable goal that I have created in the realm of Environmental, Health and Safety (EH&S), is coordinating and facilitating four EH&S Lunch and Learns for each quarter within the year. This type of measure will assist myself and my supervisor during performance review time, because it will indicate if I have met my performance goals in a timely manner. Additionally, it also lends a hand in keeping an employee structured and focused throughout the year; laying out several goals with the ability to complete them in a well timed manner.
Attainable goals are also of high significance. “Properly set goals are high but attainable (Lock & Latham, 1990).” (Aamodt, p. 339) It is vital to set goals that an individual can achieve without having an abundance of difficulty, which will ultimately lead an employee to give up. Setting goals that will increase an employee’s performance are effective, but not if the individual cannot attain those goals and gives up while trying. “Though setting higher goals generally leads to better performance than does setting lower goals, the level of goal difficulty will most affect performance when employees are committed to reaching the goal (Klein, Wesson, Hollenbeck & Alge, 1999; Locke & Latham, 2002).” (Aamodt, p. 339) If one sets high achieving goals for themselves and they do not achieve those goals, it can decrease their motivation rather than increase it. Moreover, setting goals that are too high and not achieving them can also lead to unethical behavior. Individuals may feel so much pressure to achieve the high goals that are set forth, that it may lead the employee to do “whatever it takes” to make it look as though the goal is being met. In my own PFT, I have set goals that are difficult, which will challenge me and ultimately push me...
Cited: Aamodt, M. G. (2010). Industrial/Organizational Psychology: An Applied Approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, CENGAGE Learning.
Klein, H. J., Wesson, M. J., Hollenbeck, J. R., & Alge, B. J. (1999). Goal commitment and the goal setting process: Conceptual clarification and empirical synthesis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(6), 885-896.
Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705-717.
Rubin, R. S. (2002). Will the real SMART goals please stand up? The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 39(4), 26-27.
Stajkovic, A. D., & Luthans, F. (2003). Behavioral management and task performance in organizations: Conceptual background, meta-analysis, and test alternative models. Personnel Magazine, p.69.
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