People Innovation Excellence

A Model for Goal Setting

A Model for Goal Setting

By: Novita, S.Kom, MBA

Goal setting will be successful only if the goals are properly developed and the individuals trying to achieve the goals are committed to them. A goal-setting program in an organization requires careful planning. As seen in Figure 12.1, the first three factors in the goal-setting process are establishing the goal, achieving goal commitment, and overcoming resistance to goal acceptance. Goals can be established in a variety of ways. Time and motion studies can provide the basis for goals involving repetitive and standardized tasks. Another approach is to base standards on past performance, but this may not result in a challenging goal, especially when past performance has been poor. Goals also may be set by joint participation between the employee and the supervisor. This method often leads to employee commitment, a crucial ingredient in effective goal setting.

Goal commitment can be achieved in a variety of ways. Trust in upper management, support by management, and an effective reward and incentive system are all helpful in obtaining commitment. The work already undertaken in the OD program should have built mutual trust between employees at all levels of the organization. Past successes of accomplishing goals build excitement and a positive feeling about accomplishing future goals.

Competition between employees may be useful in some cases, but managers should be careful about designing competitive situations, especially in interdependent situations. There is always the danger that employees may become so involved in competing with one another that they lose sight of the goals. Resistance to goal acceptance can be overcome by several methods, and a combination of methods will likely result in a more successful goal-setting program. Providing special training for employees in new techniques and procedures and providing rewards and incentives can encourage goal acceptance. Participation in setting goals can lead some employees to accept goals. The goals that work best conform to certain attributes or characteristics. They are difficult and challenging, but not impossible to accomplish. They are clear and easily understood. All the involved employees need to know what is expected of them if they are to accomplish the goals. A.G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble, says of the way his firm has implemented goal setting, “A lot of what we have done is make things simple because the difficulty is making sure everybody knows what the goal is and how to get there.” Goals should be specific, measurable, and compatible with the goals formulated at higher levels of the organization. As an example of goal setting, Bell Canada’s telephone operators are required to answer calls within 23 seconds, and Federal Express customer agents are expected to answer customer questions within 140 seconds. Both goals were considered very difficult when initially set, but employees eventually met and exceeded these goals.

A period of performance follows upon the setting of specific performance goals. During this time, managers must be prepared to provide support. To achieve specific goals, employees may require training or additional resources, such as new equipment or information. Managers may need to work with employees in developing action plans. Finally, managers should provide timely and objective feedback when the goal is completed. The results of the employees performance can be beneficial or negative. The benefits may incur to the organization or the individual. When individuals successfully meet a goal, they feel competent and successful. Better performance and pride in the achievement of successes can be expected. Employees are more likely to have clearer roles if they more fully realize the performance expected of them. Negative consequences can be expected when the goals are not achieved. This is most problematic in situations where specific and measurable goals could not be set.


Brown, Donald R. and Don Harvey. 2010. An Experiential Approach To Organization Development 8th edition. Prentice Hall.

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