TIL: Setting Effective Goals and Expectations

A relationship exists between goal difficulty and job performance: if a goal is accepted, the relationship between goal difficulty and performance is linear and positive; if the goal is rejected, the relationship turns negative quickly.

We accept goals that we understand,
that are clear, that make sense to us, that we find meaningful. We accept goals that are aligned with our ability.

On the other side, we reject goals htat we find unattainable,
unreasonable, that we don’t understand, that don’t align with our ability. 

In this classification we are influenced by others. If people around us reject a goal, we likely reject it ourselves.

  • they can promote unethical behaviour;
  • they can promote dissatisfaction.

To help guide goal setting many frameworks were developed over time.

One of the most popular is called SMART GOALS. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym and stands for:

  • specific;
  • misurable;
  • agreed-upon;
  • reasonable;
  • time-bound.

This framework helps to set effective goals but it has some limitations too:

  • it can lead to set unwise goals  (goals are not linked with the strategy or the vision of the team);
  • it can lead to unethical behaviour (specific goals can lead individuals to lie about their performance). You can mitigate problems related to unethical behaviours, developing tolerance for failure in your team;
  • it can lead to conflicts among discrete goals (SMART goals reduce your awareness of how multiple goals conflict);
  • specific goals lead to tunnel vision;
  • specific goals constrain learning and creativity (especially in complex and uncertain environments).

Specific goals can be useful just in case you are working on a familiar environment where you have a very specific subset of strategies.

Giving goals meaning is produces an important improvement in job performance.

End users are surprisingly effective in motivating people to work harder, smarter, and more productively.

Employees who have little experience with the company’s products or services can increase their productivity after spending some time in customers’ shoes.

Another way to make your goals more meaningful is to allow for skill variety and autonomy.

So, following the Michigan Model of Leadership goals should be:

  • specific and measurable goals, with clear timeline;
  • aligned with strategy and with other goals you are trying to accomplish;
  • agreed upon, reasonable, and accepted by employees;
  • meaningful: autonomy in accomplish goals, apply a variety of skills.

Notes from: Leading People and Teams Specialization

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