Goal setting seems to exist in everyday life and the workplace. We set goals for ourselves to get a homework assignment done before it’s due, we sets goals to get a promotion at work, and we set goals to have a family one day. Goals are everywhere. In the book, a goal is defined as ‘what an individual is trying to accomplish; it is the object or aim of an action plan.’ In order to have a goal, we have to set one through a process called goal setting or management by objective (MBO). Goal setting works to direct attention, regulate effort, increase persistence, and foster the development and application of task strategies and action plans. In my workplace, we have a yearly goal of meeting a certain amount of student contacts. This goal directs attention because we are aware of the deadline and the task at hand. It promotes all of my co-workers and I to work together and individually to meet this goal, which in turn regulates out efforts. Usually the goal is around 15,000 students, which is considered a difficult goal considering we never quite reached that number. This difficult goal is a constant reminder to us to keep working towards the goal and to increase persistence. This goal helps us to foster the development and application of task strategies and action plans because we set up nightly and weekly student contact goals that will hopefully add up to the bigger goal.
In Schweitzer (2009), he blames the recession on faulty goal setting. The author states that goals have to be specific and fit the company’s line of business, have clear limitations, and are monitored. He also claims that companies like Enron failed because they had over ambitious goals and focused on the wrong measure of goal achievement. Schweitzer agrees that challenging and specific goals do indeed boost performance; however, they have ‘powerful and predictable side effects.’ He compares goal setting with prescription, saying that it can’t be offered as an ‘over-the-counter’ drug, instead, it has to be ‘prescribed selectively, presented with a warning label, and closely monitored.’ If goal setting is carelessly applied, it could lead to ‘systematic problems in organizations due to narrowed focus, increased risk taking, unethical behavior, inhibited learning, decreased cooperation, and decreased intrinsic motivation’ (Schweitzer, 2009). Before reading this article, I never realized that goal setting would be considered a bad thing. However, now I see that, like everything else, it must be carefully thought through before being applied. This article will be very helpful when we write our first team project paper.
Schweitzer, Maurice R. "Beware the Harmful Effects of Goal-Setting." BusinessWeek Online (2009): 6. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 21 Feb. 2010.