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Locke’s theory of targeting; 5 principles for setting meaningful and challenging goals

Study guide

Most of us care SMART targeting We have learned from managers and seminars and articles related to business. We know that SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. But are these the only factors we need to consider to achieve our goals?

Dr. Edwin Locke and Dr. Gary Latham have spent many years researching goal theory, and over the years have identified five factors that must be addressed in order to achieve each of our goals. Let’s put ourselves.

In this article, we take a look at the research in question and learn how to use it for our own purposes.

What you achieve by achieving your goals is not as important as what you achieve by achieving those goals.

Henry David Thoreau, American writer and philosopher

About Locke and Latham Theory

In the late 1960s, Locke’s progressive study of goal setting and motivation gave us a new understanding of goal setting. In his 1968 paper, Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives, he showed that clear goals and appropriate feedback were effective in motivating employees. He went on to say that striving for the goal is the main source of motivation; Motivation that in turn improves performance.

Locke’s research showed that the more difficult and specific the goal, the more willing people will be to work harder to achieve it.

In a study, Locke examined a decade of valuable laboratory and field studies related to the effects of targeting and performance. He found that 90% of the time, specific and challenging goals (though not too challenging) lead to higher performance than easy goals.

For example, telling someone “work hard” or “do your best” is less effective than saying “try to do more than 80% of the work correctly” or “focus on breaking your previous record.” Likewise, a goal that is too easy is not very motivating. Hard goals are more motivating than easy goals because achieving something you have worked hard for has a greater sense of accomplishment.

A few years after Locke published his paper, Dr. Gary Latham examined the effects of workplace goal setting. His findings confirmed Locke’s findings that there is an inextricable link between goal setting and performance in the workplace.

In 1990, Locke and Latham published their original work, A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance. In this book, they reiterated the need to set specific and difficult goals, but also provided five other characteristics for successful goal setting.

The Five Principles of Locke and Latham

According to Locke and Latham, there are five principles in goal setting that can increase our chances of success:

  1. Transparency and clarity
  2. challenging
  3. obligation
  4. Feedback
  5. Complexity of work

Let’s take a closer look at each of these five elements and see how we can use them for personal and group purposes.

1. Set clear goals

When your goals are clear, you know what you are trying to achieve. You can also look closely at the results and find out which behaviors you should reward. This is why SMART is such a useful reminder.

But when a goal is vague or when you state it in general terms, such as “take the initiative,” it is not easy to measure and it is not motivating. You may not even know if you have achieved it or not!

How to set clear goals?

Personal goal setting

  • Write down your purpose and give as much detail as possible. Use the SMART method and consider your goal as a personal mission to make it clearer.
  • Think about how you measure your success in achieving this goal. What specific criteria do you use?
  • Once you have set your goal, see how it feels. Are you excited? Does this challenge motivate you? If you do not have a particular sense of purpose, you may need to modify it or change it altogether.

Group goal setting

  • Set clear goals that meet specific, measurable standards. For example, “15% reduction in labor outflows”
  • Write down the metrics you will use to measure the success of your team members. Be as careful as possible and make sure everyone in the group knows how to evaluate their success.

2. Set challenging goals

People are often motivated by challenging goals, but you should not set a goal that is so challenging that it cannot be achieved at all.

How to set challenging goals?

Personal goal setting

  • Focus on your goal. Is there enough of a challenge to interest you?
  • Self-regulation Strengthen to gain the perseverance needed to work on problems.
  • Define ways to reward yourself when you make progress. Gradual rewards for approaching goals step by step motivate you to work harder on challenging tasks.
  • Do some thorough research before setting a general goal.

Group targeting

  • When setting goals, use the inverted U model to find the best balance between workload and performance.
  • Also think about how to reward team members for achieving challenging goals.
  • If possible, create a friendly competition between members of different groups or divisions. Competition encourages people to work harder.

3. Group commitment guarantee

In order for your team to function effectively, it must understand the goals and commit to them. If group members are involved in setting a goal, they are more likely to commit to it.

This does not mean that you have to negotiate and get approval from your team members for any purpose. As long as they believe that this goal is achievable, consistent with the company’s goals, and that a reputable person is responsible for it, they will most likely be committed to that goal.

How to ensure commitment to goals?

Personal goal setting

  • Use mental imagery to commit to imagining what your life will be like after you reach this goal.
  • Create an image to remind yourself that you have to work hard. Targeted visual presentation helps you stay committed even in the most difficult situations.

Group goal setting

  • Let group members set their own goals. This increases their sense of commitment and empowerment.
  • Use goal-based management to make sure your group’s goals align with the organization’s goals.

4. Get feedback

In addition to choosing the right goals, you should also pay attention to the feedback so that you can evaluate the progress of yourself and your team. Feedback gives you the opportunity to correct people’s expectations and adjust the difficulty of their goals. Remember that feedback does not necessarily have to come from others. You can also evaluate your performance by evaluating your progress.

How to give feedback on goals?

Personal goal setting

  • Once a week, take the time to analyze your progress and accomplishments. See what has been done and what has not been done, and make adjustments along the way.
  • Try asking others for feedback along the way.
  • Use technology to track and evaluate your progress. Apps like Lift are a good start.
  • Divide difficult or large goals into smaller ones to evaluate progress, and get feedback each time you complete each one.

Group goal setting

  • Try to give your group members feedback that is objective, helpful, and positive.
  • Create a timeline to schedule regular group feedback.

5. Considering the complexity of the work

When tasks or tasks are too complex, be very careful not to get too confused. Those who work on complex and difficult plans often put a lot of pressure on themselves, regardless of the complexity of the work.

How to set complex and challenging goals?

Personal goal setting

  • Give yourself plenty of time to complete complex goals. Set deadlines that require good workload while still being achievable.
  • If you are feeling stressed about achieving your goals, these goals may be too complex or unrealistic. Evaluate both of these areas and refine your goals as needed.
  • Divide large and complex goals into a subset of smaller goals. This will make you not feel confused and stay motivated.

Group goal setting

  • Your team members may need more training before moving on to their goal. First, assess training needs to identify gaps in skills or knowledge.
  • If you find that a member of the group is confused, consider a more experienced colleague to coach or guide and assist.


Locke's theory of targeting; 5 principles for setting meaningful and challenging goals

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