Last Updated 28 Jan 2021

Goal Mechanisms

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It has been established that goals affect the performance of staff in four main ways. The first one is that goals serve a directive function. Here, the goal is essentially the compass point not only for the organization but also, and more importantly so, for the individual. Individual success is always registered as organizational success because employees are the building blocks for the organization. Direction is everything in an organization and in leadership.

In fact it is in the dire need for organizations to move on the right path – the path that leads to success – that they seek to hire good and capable staff so that among them there can be found those who have leadership ability. A leader is always different from a manager because while a leader is keen on pointing out the way forward, the manager only seeks to ensure that this way is followed. Therefore, leadership is more emphasized in organizational strategies especially where the motivational theory is seen as key in enhancing success (Latham 2007).

When the direction is known by all members of staff in an organization as indicated to them by the leaders of individual departments, then moving forward towards a set goal is a lot easier. Without direction, employees tend to stagnate and wander aimlessly for lack of clear understanding of what is expected of them and what they ought to do. With goals set and communicated, however, it is a lot easy for employees to move forward. The first of all goals that organizations ought to set is a statement of vision and mission which declares from the onset the overall or ultimate goal of the organization.

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The vision statement serves as the overall guide of the activities that an organization is undertaking and those which it seeks to undertake in the future. It is a declaration to all people, including staff and the other main stakeholders, of the place the organization seeks to be after a given period of time (Marks 2001). The second mechanism is that goals have an energizing function. The rate at which an employee who is working following a well structured and clearly defined plan has been proved to be higher than one who is not following any plan.

Motivational theorists cite an increase in the metabolic rate of an employee when the employee is faced with a goal to meet. The empirical findings on this subject suggest that the closer the deadline for attaining the goal the more likely that an individual will be more energized to achieve it. For instance, if an employee is told at the beginning of the day that he/she will have to accomplish a certain amount of work before the close of that day, then the individual will most likely finish that work earlier than the set time because of being energized.

The extra energy that comes from an increased metabolic rate of the body is linked to a feeling of stress on the mind that is caused by the fearful feelings that a certain task does not have enough time to carry it out (Marva & Laura 2010). Although staff might feel a little irritated or even opposed to goals – especially those that are strict or close – they get to subconsciously acquire a lot more strength that pushes them to complete the tasks a lot faster.

The overall outcome is that there is a lot of work being performed by employees when goals have been set. It is worth noting here that strict deadlines do not necessarily mean setting goals that are unrealistic and/or unattainable. Goals have to be specific, attainable, measurable, reasonable, and time-bound. Therefore, it would make absolutely no sense if a leader tries to increase the output from workers by setting deadlines that are too close to be met. Such is a waste if timer and resources and is bound to fail miserably (Marva & Laura 2010).

The third issue that has been fronted is that goals affect persistence. This can be no less true especially considering what has been observed over the years. A research conducted in Europe on the performance of industrial workers, for instance, proved that if employees are obliged to follow certain strict rules or to meet certain specific targets on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, they tended to be more resilient in undertaking their work than when they are just required to do whatever thy are assigned at their own rate and pace.

While many behavioral therapists have failed to exactly point out the cause of this, it has been almost generally accepted that when the mind is able to feel conditioned to meet a certain target, the muscles of the body are made to have a higher level of strength which is not able to be dissipated until the task under question is fully performed. Therefore, for as long as the goal set is not attained, the body will continue channeling a lot more willpower and strength (in the form of increased metabolic rate) to the mind and the muscles, respectively.

This is unlike a person who is at liberty to do only as much work as one is willing. Such a one will tend to give up at the slightest sign of getting tired because the willpower that comes when one has to meet a target is not present. Finally, goals affect action indirectly by leading to the arousal, discovery, and/or use of task-relevant knowledge and strategies. This is an area which ought to be carefully studied by organizational management teams and leaders of workers if they are to benefit from the uniqueness of their employees.

There are tasks that require only specific types of knowledge in order to be performed well enough to realize the desired goals. When an individual is given a task to perform, there follows an activation or arousal of certain skills and knowledge that is hidden within the individual which is responsible, ideal, or even indispensable in the execution of the task under question. It has been proven that such task-specific knowledge or skills cannot be aroused as quickly if there is no sense of urgency as is found in one having to meet strict deadlines.

Therefore, it is highly likely that a person who is working on a certain task that has no specific goals will be less effective in performing the task owing to the failure of the body to arouse the skills needed for the performance of the task (Latham 2007). On the contrary, a person working to meet a certain goal with have not only a sense of urgency and so more task-specific skills at one’s disposal but will also be able to do undertake the task a lot better owing to the arousal of task-specific knowledge ad skills (Latham 2007).

The result is, therefore, that setting goals help not only in the increase in the level of output because of an increase in the rate of performance of the employees but also an increase in the quality of work being done. Because quality and quantity are both important measures of the efficiency and so the success of an organization, goal-setting will go a long way in enhancing the success of an organization. The leader is the person who needs to be able to set goals in any organization because employees might not be fully aware of what is expected of them.

Otherwise, they might be wary of goals because they believe or think that the goals are meant to keep them working too hard (Edgar 2005). A notable factor to be considered here is the link between the various types of motivation. Although this essay applies to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, the former seems to be so much the kind that is realized when goals are set. It entails the motivation that is from within someone based on the joy of doing something (Latham 2007).

Therefore, it is the duty of the leader to ensure that an understanding is reached among all management teams on the value of goal-setting so that everyone can work toward ensuring the success of the organization. Management will be required to supervise the implementation of the set goals but the leadership must decide which goals are needed and so put them in place accordingly. This brings to the fore the issue of the factors to be considered by the leader in setting goals to be attained by employees.

Although sometimes various factors have tended to be more affective of the process of setting goals, the type of leadership style and the personality of the leader tend to prevail. This happens when a leader unwittingly sets goals based not on the needs of the workers but on oneself. However, goal setting ought to be commensurate with the leader’s understanding of various aspects of the employees (Tone, Martin & Johnny 2009). First and foremost, the leader has to understand the different personalities of the workers. This is because people with different personality traits will achieve goals differently.

For instance, introverted people will tend to achieve a lot when they work alone or in isolation than together with others (O'Regan 2004). On the contrary, extroverts like sanguines will achieve a lot when they work in teams as they can relate well with others. Another consideration is the values and attitudes of the employees. The leader must ensure that people are assigned tasks which they highly regard and so have a more positive outlook towards. This way, they will tend to work a lot harder to meet the targets when doing such tasks.

The ability of the individual is also a great factor (Bragg 2000). When assigning duties and setting goals, the leader must ensure that every employee has a task for which one has the highest level of ability to do it. This will enhance the chances of such a one meeting the goals set. Self-efficacy and self-esteem are also critical factors to be considered. The higher the self-esteem and personal efficacy one has the higher the chances that the task will be undertaken within the set limits. Finally, there is to be a consideration of the intelligence of the employee.

It can be ideal and beneficial for a very intelligent person to be assigned a task which requires less time to finish because the higher the level of intelligence the faster one can implement tasks (O'Regan 2004). The ability for an employee to achieve a certain target is an indirect function of the leader’s style of leadership and the nature of the goals or the purpose which is to be realized upon attainment of the goal (Pradeep 1985). For instance, a motivational leader will most likely cause more employees to meet their set targets because he gets them to really be in tune with the objective of the task at hand (Ralph & Robert 2000).

The purpose for which a certain task is being implemented can help boost employee motivation if the leader can so make the employees to have an understanding. A transformational leader, unlike the motivational one, will tend to focus a lot of changing the way things are historically done (Giri & Santra 2010). Such a leader will benefit from setting goals because of having the ability to understand that there ought to be a timeline for accomplishing a given program of change.

Change is usually a very uncomfortable experience for many employees and even their staff because it almost always means lots of uncertainties which are not necessarily able to meet the expectations of the people. Although it has been noted that a leader with a motivational kind of approach will most likely meet set goals faster than a transformational one, it is worth noting that this is largely dependent on the particular goal and the extent to which the goal is received by the implementers (Bellou 2009).

It has been observed than even when a leader has been very motivational and capable of offering workers the best leadership approach and so help them attain their goals in lesser time, there has been delays in projects if the implementers are not really able to identify with the projects or when they do not view the projects as being of any great value to them. Projects or tasks are ranked and are implemented according to their priorities. A leader ought to ensure that the most important projects are implemented first, being given priority over others.

As such, the people to undertake such very vital tasks are required to be well trained, more intelligent, and with the highest level of ability possible (O'Regan 2005). This is in accordance to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory. Every leader needs to have an intrinsic understanding of the projects that are of great value to the organization so that there is a lot of focus on those ones. Conclusion Goals do play an important role in motivating workers and in acting as the link between motivation and leadership.

Leaders have to understand this correlation between goals and motivation in order to be in a position to utilize the motivation that is derived from setting goals for every activity that is set to be undertaken by an organization. Leaders also need to have a clear understanding and knowledge of their employees and to evaluate them from time to time to be better placed to know how to help them set and meet goals. Helping employees to set goals and achieve the goals by the leaders can motivate the employees in the place of work.

However, given that motivation can be intrinsic and/or extrinsic, leaders should use the set goal to understand linkage between motivation and leadership. Word count: 2,786 References Bellou, V 2009. “Profiling the desirable psychological contract for different groups of employees: evidence from Greece”, International Journal of human resource management. Vol, 20 Issue 4, P810-830 Bragg, T 2000. "How to effectively reward and inspire your team", Occupational Hazards, No. October, pp. 131-4. Edgar, F 2005.

"HRM practice and employee attitudes: different measures – different results", Personnel Review, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 534-49. Edwin AL ; Gray PL 2002. “Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation”, American Psychologist, Vol. 57, No. 9, pp 705-717 Giri, V ; Santra, T 2010. “Effects of job experience, career stage, and hierarchy on leadership style”. Singapore Management Review; Vol. 32 Issue 1, P85-93, Hartog, D 2004. "High performance work systems, organisational culture and

firm effectiveness", Human Resource Management Journal, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 55-78. Latham, G 2007. Work motivation: history, theory, research, and practice. SAGE Marks, S 2001. "Incentives that really reward and motivate", Workforce, No. June, pp. 108-14. Marva LD ; Laura KH 2010. “The Impact of Path-Goal Leadership Styles on Work Group Effectiveness and Turnover Intention”, Journal of Managerial Issues, Vol. XXII, No. 1, pp 52-69 O'Regan, N 2002. "Formal strategic planni

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