Goal-setting theory also deals with challenge and complexity of the tasks which people have to fulfill during their work. The theory argues that there is a direct connection between the challenge and complexity of tasks and the ability of people to perform. “Goal-setting research has shown repeatedly that people who try to attain specific and challenging (difficult) goals perform better on tasks than people who try for specific but moderate or easy goals, vague goals such as "do your best," or no goals at all.
” (Hartmut et al, 1990, p. 4). In many cases, those employees who are not afraid of difficulties and prefer to work in order to achieve the highest goals are very successful. Even though they might not always achieve their goals due to the lack of luck or any other factors, they eventually come to the point when everything finally works out the best possible way for them. At the same time, those people who never set high goals for themselves usually end up performing on the average level and thus never show any brilliant results.
They might even be capable of achieving a lot but they are too shy or too lazy to fight for success and end up achieving only insignificant goals which do not have a great influence on their performance. Therefore, the goal-setting theory states that the goal difficulty positively correlates with the employees’ performance. However, some other motivation theories do not agree with this statement. “The finding of goal-setting theory, that performance is a positive function of goal difficulty (assuming adequate ability), is at odds with achievement motivation theory”.
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(Hartmut et al, 1990, p. 4). For example, achievement motivation theory argues that setting high goals is not as beneficial for employees are setting realistic moderate goals. For some employees, it might really be true that they perform at the highest level when they have very much pressure and are working to achieve a high goal. However, those are rather exceptions than the rule because an average employee has the highest performance when the goals which he sets answer his level.
“Achievement motivation theory asserts that maximum motivation will occur at moderate levels of difficulty where the product of probability of success and the incentive value of success is highest. ” (Hartmut et al, 1990, p. 5). It is impossible to make a conclusion concerning which approach is correct. The goal-setting theory’s arguments can be very efficient for employees driven by desire to get promoted and recognized. They will perform at the highest level when they see how important their work is.
For employees who do not strive for success as much, moderate goals will be much more effective because they will not put very much pressure on them and at the same time let them realize their potential. The goal-setting theory makes some remarks in that regard. For example, it states that individuals actually have limits of their abilities and there is a need to raise their goals only until the level at which they are capable to perform. It is certainly impossible to determine what the limit of an employee’s abilities is, but it is necessary to try and obtain the most accurate forecasts.
No matter how ambitious an employee is, setting unreachable goals for him will never lead to any positive results. “Goal-setting research has found that the relation of goal difficulty to performance is curvilinear after the limit of ability has been reached. ” (Hartmut et al, 1990, p. 6). The goal-setting motivation theory is a very effective theory of motivation because it regards goals as the basic factors of individual performance. It also states that people’s motivation is guided by conscious factors and thus enables managers to influence their employees’ performance efficiently, through the impact on their consciousness.
The correct set of goals is able to motivate a person and lead him to the achievement of great results. At the same time, the wrong choice of goals can prevent the employee from realization of his potential. If the individual feels that the goals which he needs to achieve are too moderate for him, he can get disinterested in his work.
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Motivation, Planning, and Action: A Relational Theory of Behavior Dynamics. Leuven University Press; Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1984. 3. Hartmut Hacker, Uwe Kleinbeck, Hans-Henning Quast, Henk Thierry. Work Motivation Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1990. 4. Lens Willy M. , Nuttin Joseph B. Future Time Perspective and Motivation: Theory and Research Method. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1985. 5. Locke, E. A. Motivation through conscious goal setting. Applied and Preventative Psychology, 5,117-124. 1994. 6. Maslow, A. Motivation and personality. New York: Harper. 1954.
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