Setting Goals to Improve Performance
Smart entrepreneurs are always searching for growth strategies that will benefit their businesses. Working toward goals has been popular since Edwin Locke suggested the Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation in the 1960s. Continued research has improved the application of this technique and developed a body of best practices for goal setting in the workplace.
How Goal-Setting Improves Performance
In the brain, working toward goals involves the intersection of motivation and will. A well-structured objective promotes something that would not happen without extra effort.
Attaining a goal stimulates the dopaminergic reward system, giving a sense of pleasure. This reward process is powerful enough that the brain will rewire itself to focus on attaining the goal.
Choosing the Right Type of Goal
The sense of reward that comes with attaining a goal requires starting with the right objective. Trying to make goals out of routine tasks is rarely successful. Instead, workplace goals should be clear, challenging, and purposeful.
Specific and Clear
It is easier for employees to work toward a successful outcome if they can visualize it. Goals should be concrete and measurable. Specificity allows employees to develop strategies for attaining goals and offers benchmarks to measure progress.
Challenging but Attainable
When you assign a goal, it should reflect your understanding of the capabilities of the employee. A well-designed goal will not be out of reach but should involve some stretching. The challenge of a task is part of what creates interest and focus.
Mission-Oriented and Purposeful
You should be able to relate goals to the overall purpose of your business. Feeling like they are contributing to the business’s success gives them greater ownership over the task. The goal is no longer just about a personal challenge. It also benefits the broader organization.
Supporting Your Team’s Goals
As a manager, you have more to do than designate goals. You will want to keep track of progress and offer support that will lead your team to success.
Set the Stage for Success
Failure is one of the risks of goal-setting. If meeting the goal becomes too complicated or stressful, it can hurt morale. Just as success leads to a sense of reward, failing to meet an objective feels like a penalty.
You want to know your team members have the resources they need for a successful outcome. This preparation may include investing in upgraded software or making training available to improve skills.
Offer Meaningful Feedback
Objectives that deserve to be formal goals will take time to achieve. Offering regular feedback to your staff shows that you are paying attention. It also provides an opportunity to evaluate progress, discover friction points, and make plans to alleviate them.
The Power of Choice
A sense of autonomy is critical in successful goal-setting. Employees are more likely to stay engaged with the challenge if they feel like they could choose to accept it. When a goal becomes another assignment, the staff will treat it as routine work.
A Partner for Entrepreneurial Growth
Productivity Intelligence Institute seeks to help entrepreneurs develop and implement growth strategies for success. If you need help achieving your business goals, contact us today.