Goal Setting Theory – Meaning and 05 Main Principles

Goal Setting Theory - Meaning and 05 Main Principles

Goal setting theory is a theory used by many employers in order to increase the productivity of the employees of the organization. It is a theory based on the idea that implementing and setting specific goals can be effective when achieving organizational goals. these goals are measurable and achievable for the employees.

This is also considered as goal setting theory of motivation. The theory was initially put forward by Edwin A. Locke in 1968 in an article he published, ‘Toward a theory of task motivation and incentive’. In this article, Locke emphasized that there is a positive link between setting up a clear goal for the employees and task performance.

It is identified that the employees are more motivated and encouraged by well-defined goals given to them and constructive feedback received from the superiors and they are more likely to work productively to achieve the set goals. It is also identified that the goal achievement rate is higher when the set goal is measurable and specific.

Apart from setting clear goals, Locke also emphasized that there is a positive connection between employee motivation and the nature of the goal. More challenging the goal is, there is a higher possibility of employees achieving the goal. Facing a more challenging goal encourages employees to develop their skills, work hard and give their maximum effort to achieve the set goal successfully. This will help to increase employee engagement in the business process, productivity, business innovation, and employee satisfaction.

Principles of Goal Setting Theory

There are five main principles related to goal setting theory.

1. Clarity of the goal

When setting up a goal for the employees to achieve, the management of the organization should make sure to be clear and specific about their expectations from setting the goal. It should be helpful for the employees to understand what is expected from them and what should be done to achieve the goal. This helps to minimize the risk of misunderstandings and increase the productivity of the employees.

2. Goal should be challenging

As mentioned above, the more challenging the goal is, there is a high possibility that the employees will successfully achieve the goal. Challenging goals keep the employees focused and engaged in their tasks and improve performance. If the goals are too easy to achieve, it can discourage and demotivate the employees. Therefore, it is important for the goals to be challenging enough to motivate and encourage employees to engage and achieve the expectations from them.

It can impact positively on the entire business process of the organization as the employees tend to be more productive and innovative to face the challenging tasks assigned to them.

3. Commitment to goal attainment

Employees need to understand the importance of the set goal for them and the impact of the goal on the overall business performance. They should support the goal and work towards achieving the set goal. This needs employee commitment to do whatever takes to achieve the goal and come up with creative and innovative ideas that can help in goal attainment. When the employees are committed to achieving the set goal, they can give their maximum effort while enjoying the work process.

Apart from that, the commitment towards goal attainment can help the employees to gain more knowledge about the business process and use that knowledge for self-growth in the business industry.

4. Constructive Feedback

Providing constructive feedback for the employees is a key component of the goal setting theory. Feedback should be provided regularly based on their performance in achieving the set goals. This will help to ensure the alignment of employee activities with the assigned goals as well as overall organizational objectives.

5. Complexity of the assigned tasks

When setting bigger goals for the employees, the goal should be broken down into smaller goals to make them less complex. Once every small goal is achieved, the big main goal is automatically achieved by the employees. It can be less stressful for the employees.

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