Tuesday, October 4, 2011
By Ray Whittaker
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6418002
Goal setting exercises that are well-known and loved by many are really not all they're cracked up to be. Anyone who's worked in the corporate world will be familiar with the ubiquitous S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals. Big corporations use these as part of their staff development procedures. But research carried out by Dr Edwin Locke and Dr Gary Latham on goal setting and motivation suggests that the S.M.A.R.T. goals don't really address the real needs of achievers. (see A Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance (1990) - Locke and Latham)
Basing their research on Locke's goal setting theory, Locke and Latham discovered that there are five important factors in goal setting exercises that need to be in place for the goal to be motivational. Without these, goals tend to be forgotten, ignored or just not taken seriously. So here are the five factors to keep in mind whenever you embark on your own goal setting exercises:
A clear goal is specific but is a specific goal clear? You might have a specific goal of speaking to 5 new customers this week but are you clear about what you're going to say? When you set out a goal clearly it is automatically both specific and measurable. You'll know whether you've achieved it or not. The SMART acronym covers the clarity of a goals by making them Specific, Measurable and Time-bound. So far so good!
A goal must be challenging to motivate. A goal that is too easy is not worth having. We are not likely to pursue any goal that doesn't give you some sense of achievement. Of course, we do things every day that don't necessarily give us a sense of achievement but we don't set goals for them; we just do them. I wouldn't set a specific goal to drive to the supermarket for instance; I'd just go! I've known instances where people set SMART goals that just aren't challenging. It's usually not long before those goals get forgotten. A challenging goal still has to be achievable though.
If you set a goal for yourself, it's pretty certain you're going to be committed to it. But if you're in a position where you want to set a goal for someone else, you need to be sure they are committed to it. How you do that depends on the individual people and situations involved. When you're going through goal setting exercises with others such as employees or contractors, you'll need to consider how you're going to get their commitment to achieving the goal.
To stay motivated towards a goal, people need to know how well they are doing. It's important to have some way of monitoring progress toward the goal. And that information should be accessible to all concerned
5. Task Complexity
You could be forgiven for thinking that task complexity is the same a challenging. A complex task is likely to be challenging but it is not necessarily true that a challenging task would be complex. And a task that is too complex would have a detrimental effect on motivation to complete it. This is where the SMART goals have an advantage in emphasizing tasks should be achievable.