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Monday, January 16, 2012

Goal Setting- A Series


Research has shown that goal setting, if done correctly, is one of the most supported motivational techniques (Jex  & Britt 2008). Setting goals can help you maximize success for yourself and/or the people that you lead.  

We’ve all heard of the acronym “SMART” that guides good goal setting:
Specific
Measureable
Attainable
Realistic
Time bound

I certainly advocate for following these guides with any resolution or goal you set.   But there are three things that I want to focus on over the next few weeks that have been shown to be important components of goal setting that are not emphasized as much as the acronym components: 

1.       Goal Commitment
2.       The law of diminishing returns
3.       Feedback 

In terms of commitment, before you set a New Year’s resolution, honestly examine how committed you are to the goal.  Many people fail because the behaviors that lead to goal attainment are not established as habits. For example, losing weight is one of the classic goal setting examples.  If your goal is to loose 10 pounds in 3 months, if you don't modify your behavior to make it a habit to exercise more and eat less, it isn't going to work.  Your behaviors reflect your commitment.
If you’re a leader and need to foster goal commitment with those you lead, here are two tips: 

1.       Set goals with the people you lead versus for them (participative goal setting) –or-
2.       If you have to set goals for people, “sell” don’t “tell” those goals

If you’re interested in reading more about how and why goal setting works and how goal commitment is intertwined in this, check out “Goal-Setting- A Motivational Technique That Works” by Gary Latham and Edwin Locke.

I’ll talk about the law of diminishing returns next week and why feedback is important as well as some tools for providing feedback to yourself or those you lead to round out January’s posts.

Reference: Jex, S.M. & Britt, T.W. (2008).  Organizational Psychology: A Scientist- Practitioner Approach. 2nd ed. Wiley. pp 247.

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