Make them achievableNothing discourages a worker more than being consistently unable to meet the targets that have been set for them. On the other hand, the popular maxim that "success breeds success," has been scientifically proven to be true.
A study carried out by Stony Brook University found that early success produced significant increases in success at a later stage. The research findings say that a "... modest initial success may be sufficient to trigger a self-propelling cascade of success...."
Managers should ensure that goals can be comfortably met. This will provide a boost to morale and keep employees motivated.
Unfortunately, many leaders think that by stipulating targets that are difficult to meet, they will force employees to work harder than they otherwise would. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Over a period of time, a worker who continuously cannot meet the objectives that have been set will become demotivated and inefficient.
Do not change them midwayImagine a situation where a sales manager and a member of the sales team mutually decide on a target of 50 units to be sold in the month of January. By the third week, the sales person has already achieved 90% of the month's quota. Is it fair for the manager to revise the number of units to be sold in the month to 60?
If the target is increased, it will only serve to demotivate employees. Another probable repercussion would be that in the coming months, sales persons would try and keep most of the business for the last week, so that the manager does not get an opportunity to revise targets.
Align goals with company objectivesIf this is not done, the individual employees and divisions within an organization may meet their targets, but the company as a whole could be far short of what it had set out to achieve. This contradictory situation is common in those firms that do not coordinate individual goals with those of the company.
Exercise caution when setting goalsUsing goals as a tool to achieve results and increase productivity can sometimes do more harm than good. If an employee focuses exclusively on the goals that have been set and ignores other aspects of work, it could lead to certain important tasks being ignored. Sometimes workers may also adopt unethical means to fulfill their targets, exposing the company to the possibility of legal action.
Managers should adopt a balanced approach when setting goals for their team members. The goal-setting process should include not only the targets to be met, but should also cover the means that will be used to achieve them.