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Goal Setting

By Joanna-Berger Feb 25, 2014 1568 Words
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 to better myself within my job. However, the goals that I have set are reasonable and attainable, so I do not set myself up for failure.

In addition to having attainable goals, individual goals must be relevant to the type of work you are being tasked to complete. For example, providing an EH&S Specialist, such as myself, with financial business goals instead of EH&S Metric goals, would not be as motivating for me. It is crucial that my goals are relevant to what I am doing on a daily basis so I can relate to them and desire to challenge myself. Within the Pratt & Whitney PFT Tool, 80% of my weighted goals are related to EH&S, thus it is pushing me to challenge myself in this specific area.

Lastly, goals work best when they are time-bound and need to be completed within a precise time period. If a supervisor or manager asked you to complete a task with no specified completion date, then you would not be as motivated to accomplish it with a short turnaround time. Time-bound goals not only help motivate employees, but it also makes one accountable for their actions.

SMART objectives are an extremely valuable tool that gets the employee involved in the decision making of their own personal goals. This is key to motivating an employee. “It was generally thought that a goal would lead to the greatest increase in productivity if it was set at least in part by the employee. Although performance would increase if the supervisor set the employee’s goals, it would increase even more if the employee participated.” (Aamodt, p.340) In my own experience at Pratt & Whitney, I have been involved in setting my own goals on an annual basis. Being involved in my goal setting has helped me set the bar for myself, with my supervisor’s input. In essence, I truly own the objectives I created and have a vested interest in them, which ultimately motivates me to do well.

Furthermore, Pratt & Whitney also uses another tool in conjunction with the PFT Tool to aid in goal setting. This tool is called the Individual Development Plan (IDP). While the PFT Tool focuses on completing objectives annually, the IDP caters to developing skills for the future. Thus, the IDP focuses on specific training classes, web based courses, or seminars, that one can participate in to develop and further one’s self in their career. This tool has been extremely valuable in my development as an EH&S Specialist. It provides my supervisor (as well as myself) with a document that tracks what my next steps are in challenging myself and getting to the next level. Keep in mind, the courses/training are not picked haphazardly, there is thought that goes into it. Keeping in line with SMART objectives, I need to complete the laid out courses within a specific timeframe, and they must be relevant to the job that I am currently performing. For instance, I have documented in my IDP that I am to complete specific OSHA Courses within a specified timeframe this year. It would not make sense for me to require myself to take engineering courses, because they are not relevant to the tasks that I perform.

In order to increase the effect of goal setting it is essential that feedback is provided to the employee. “To increase the effectiveness of goal setting, feedback should be provided to employees on their progress in reaching their goals (Locke & Latham, 2002; Stajkovic & Luthans, 2003).” (Aamodt, p. 341) The PFT system includes this crucial piece. In order for me to know if I have truly met my own personal goals as well as the needs of my customers, feedback must be provided in a positive, informal, and constructive way. The PFT Tool offers what is called 360° Feedback. This offers the opportunity for me to choose customers that I work with heavily, and offer them to chance to provide feedback about the quality of customer service I provide to them. Additionally, it gives me the ability to see their perspective on how I perform my job, as well as how I can improve upon it.

In conclusion, setting individual goal plans involves being SMART about what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it. Being a part of your goal setting and looking at current and future goals will help challenge you in the present, as well as in the future. Furthermore, encourage your customers to provide you with feedback on your goal process. This type of verbal or written communication will assist on the progress of attaining your goals and challenge you to take your job to the next level.

Works 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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