Performance Appraisals and Phrases For Dummies
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Goal-setting is a typical part of the employee-appraisal process. One of the key steps in establishing motivational goals to establish them with your employees rather than for your employees. When there's no employee involvement or input, and no consideration of the employees’ needs, the goals are likely to be rejected and, thus, void of any motivational impact.

If your employees sense a link between fulfillment of their needs and the goals that you jointly establish with them, the goals are likely to have more of a motivational impact.

The presence of goals doesn’t necessarily mean that employees will be motivated, but the lack of goals undercuts the likelihood of any significant motivation. After all, motivation energizes employees to take action to move toward a particular goal. If there are no goals to meet down the road, the employees will have no particular drive to get there.

When establishing goals with your employees, you need to give some extra thought to the level of difficulty of the goals themselves:

  • Extremely challenging goals: Some managers believe that goals should be as challenging as possible. The hope is that, if goals are extremely difficult or maybe even impossible to reach, employees will be highly motivated to reach them. Such challenging goals will energize employees to push themselves to great lengths, well beyond their normal efforts. In actuality, most employees reason that if goals absolutely can’t be met, there’s no point in even trying.

  • Extremely easy goals: At the other end of the continuum, some managers believe that easily attainable goals are the most motivational. But when employees can exert little or no effort and reach their goals, the message is that such goals are insignificant and meaningless.

  • Challenging goals: Goals that have a positive motivational impact are challenging, but they must be realistically challenging.

There's no guarantee that your employees will meet challenging goals, but with serious effort, energy, drive, and focus — along with support, guidance, and feedback from you — there's a chance that your employees will experience a major success. And with that success will come meaningful recognition and a true sense of achievement and accomplishment, which is highly motivational.

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Ken Lloyd, PhD, is a nationally recognized consultant, author, and columnist who specializes in organizational behavior, communication, and management coaching and development.

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