The 5 Principles Of Effective Goal Setting

The 5 Principles Of Effective Goal Setting

Whether you’re an employer looking to boost your workforce or your own performance, or you’re an employee looking to improve your productivity and effectiveness at work – the only way to achieve your targets is by setting clear and effective goals.

The way that most businesses and organizations do this is by following the 5 principles set by Dr Locke and Dr Latham, but some are unaware of what these are.

This guide will examine these 5 principles and answer why they’re so important to your success.

The 5 Principles Of Effective Goal Setting


If you’ve ever set yourself or others some targets before, you’ll likely have heard of the method of setting SMART goals. This method is similar to this principle in that a goal has to be defined specifically and be made crystal clear.

For example, if you’re working in a hotel and need to check in guests more quickly, you’ll need to set out a clear goal. Here’s a bad example:

“My goal is to check in guests faster”.

This goal has no time specific frame and does not set out what is going to happen to achieve the target. It also does not state why you’d want to do this. Here’s a good example:

“My goal is to explore a range of new software that can check in double the number of guests in a one-hour window.”

This is clear, precise and with a good time frame. It’s also easy to know when you’ve achieved the target – if you’ve checked in double the number of guests in an hour than the average number.

The Sense Of A Challenge

It’s no good setting a goal that is too easy to achieve. You can fall into the trap of knowing you can achieve it at the last possible moment, so the thrill of attaining it is lost.

Understanding what you need to do with the knowledge that it is achievable if you do X, you should feel stretched and ready to work hard to achieve your goals.

If you manage to step away from your usual sense of comfort, there’s a potential for you to develop new skills and meet new people and build contacts – all of these things can be critical in advancement.

Full Commitment

The fact is, if you’re not committed to a goal, you’ll likely not work to achieve it as much as you could do. Having a sense of “I want that, and I will get that” will boost your likelihood of success.

Psychologically speaking, there is a method known as visualization, which asks the person to think of how things will be once they’ve achieved their goals. If you can do this, you’re much more likely to work towards your goals because you know of the benefits of doing so.

By being committed in this way, to imagine future of what can happen should boost your sense of a challenge and fully enthrall you into your work.

Receiving Feedback

Feedback is important in any job and any set of tasks that have a possibility of advancement. It allows you the time and the vision to understand what is happening, why it is happening, if it is any good and if not – what can you change to improve it and how?

Personal feedback with management feedback can prove invaluable, so it’s critical that you’re always tracking your progress with you and your manager’s comments.

It’s a good idea to keep a journal with your progress tracker. This allows you to see how far you’ve got and how you got there. You can also review your management’s comments and reflect on them from the previous month and the next month.

Always ensure you’ve set out a good time frame for feedback. We’d recommend twice a month for the best results. Halfway through the month and at the end of the month.

To do this, you can agree on a date that suits all parties involved and lock it into your diary. Be sure to stick with it if you want things to improve. You can also set out a milestone(s) and any time you hit one of those, request a new feedback session.

Manage The Complexity

Setting goals is not always as simple as we think. Sometimes they are very complex with complex tasks to perform and complicated guidelines.

It’s therefore critical that you manage this complexity in a calm and clear way. Remember, you’re not expected to hit these goals instantly, and you don’t have to hit everything right away.

Tackling too much at once can cause you to “juggle” your tasks, and you’ll end up performing them at a lesser scale than you are capable of.

The best thing to do is to set out small, manageable chunks of each task. Take weight loss as an example. If your goal is to lose 100 lbs, you won’t do this in a day.

Losing weight requires commitment and hard work. You’ll need to ensure you’re eating right, working out etc., and it’s okay to slip from time to time as long as you’re committed to the overall goal.

You do this by managing chunks. For example “I will run for 10 minutes today”. This doesn’t have to be 10 minutes all in one, you can break this down if you feel it is difficult and run 5 times for 2 minutes.

Once you’ve mastered each of these chunks, you can improve and advance on the goal.

The Bottom Line

The 5 principles are crucial to your overall success if you can follow them in a committed and effective way. Understanding what goals you need to achieve, why you’re trying to achieve them, how you’ll achieve them and what you need to do for these to be possible is the critical nature of them.

We hope this has been helpful for you. Good luck!

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