Goal setting is an exercise that we use frequently in our daily lives, both consciously and unconsciously. A simple goal for an employee could be to reach his work place on time. Goal setting enables us to achieve results.
The results achieved depend on the goals set. There are numerous factors that determine the level of achievement, the primary factor being the feasibility of the goal. The goals set must be practical and achievable. There is no point in setting the goal of traveling to the end of the solar system in a month, as we currently do not have the technology to support the achievement of this goal. A practical goal could be to earn a merit award at your workplace by the end of the quarter.
Levels of goal setting
Goal setting can be at two levels:
At a personal level, goal setting enables us to determine individually what we want to achieve, and thereby put into place a process to achieve them. Personal goals, as the phrase suggests, is individual-based. In the business world today, personal goals are mostly focused on career, finance, and image building. Establishing a successful business could be the personal goal of someone with entreprenuerial ambitions. For a mountaineer, a personal goal could be scaling Mt. Everest.
Organizational goal setting involves setting goals for a collective. The subset to organizational goal setting is, again, personal goal setting. An organization can set a goal of a 25% increase in profits, but this would involve individuals within the organization setting personal goals that would contribute to the achievement of the organizational goal.
Therefore, personal goal setting is the basis on which collective goals can be set. It would not be possible for an organization to achieve the collective goal of 25% increase in profit if the individuals in the collective, i.e. the company, did not set personal goals in sync with the overall collective goal, or set goals that were in tune with the collective goal but did not put up the required effort to achieve their personal goals.
Setting attainable goals paves the way for success. From what has been written so far, one thing becomes clear – goal setting is the key to achievement. Achievement is the key to success today, be it in business, education, or in personal development.
In business today, goal setting is used as a primary driving force to achieve results. Businesses today add the concept of incentives to encourage personnel to set high goals and then work towards achieving them. The term incentive is an all-encompassing term that could translate into a promotion, recognition, a paid vacation, or anything that can be construed as ‘reward’. Once employees set goals, they are aware of the expectations that accompany the goals. This enables employees to execute strategies to ensure that the goals set are also met, thereby minimizing the chances of inadequate effort being a cause for goals not being met.
However, like all other things, goal setting has certain disadvantages. One possible disadvantage is that goal setting could make the employee develop tunnel vision of sorts, that is, become too focused on achieving the goals set to actually focus on other beneficial aspects of the work process, such as implicit learning. The key is to strike a balance between setting high yet achievable goals and also learning more in the process.