Goal Setting Theory of Motivation – Locke’s Five Principles

Goal setting theory of motivation is a theory which states that there is an inseparable link between goal setting and task performance. The theory was proposed by Edwin Locke in 1960’s. It states that specific, measurable and attainable goals motivate an employee to achieve the goal, while lousy vague targets suck off enthusiasm of employee.

Goal Setting Theory of Motivation

Five Principles of Goal Setting Theory

  • Clarity: Vague, unambiguous goal leads to misconceptions and will never give desired results. Crisp, clear, measurable, specific goals have to be set and communicated to the employee in the simplest way possible. No room for assumptions in goal setting.
  • Challenging goals: Besides being clear and specific, the goal set should be challenging. Easy to achieve goals fail to keep the employee excited, however, since people are often motivated by the feeling of achievement, setting challenging goals helps motivate the employee to do his best. When setting goals, make each goal a challenge. If an assignment is easy and not viewed as very important – and if employee doesn’t expect the accomplishment to be significant then the effort may not be impressive
  • Achievable goals: if the goal by his manager is something really steep, it will do more damage instead of good. Easy goals don’t seem to challenge an employee, however, in the eagerness to set challenging goals, if the goal is tad on the unattainable side, the employee can get demotivated, instead of motivated. The idea is to challenge the employee to give his best performance without frustrating him.
  • Commitment to goals: If employees feel they were part of creating the goal, they are more likely to try their level best to achieve the goal.
  • Task Complexity: When a goal is complex, the employee becomes confused on how to achieve the goals. This results in poor motivation and often resist and obstruct people from attaining the goals.
  • Feedback: Once the goal is set and task is delegated, it is important to monitor the progress and provide regular feedback to employee. Feedback empowers people to improve their performance and enable them to keep their problems and concerns in perspective.

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