Locke and Latham's Goal Setting Theory-II


In order for goals to be effective, they need to be agreed upon. The goal should be in line with the general, established expectations that you have had for the employee in the past. The employee and employer must both be committed to using the resources needed to complete the goal and should also agree on what the reward will be. This takes more time and energy on both parts, but it prevents an end result where the employee didn’t have what he or she needed to have in order to be successful, or where the employer is frustrated by the employee’s distaste for pursuing the goal.

This doesn’t mean that you have to get an employee’s absolute agreement to every goal that you set for them before setting it. But it does help to gain general agreement if the employee is involved in setting the goals. Allow them to participate in the conversation about what is needed in order to complete the goal, how much time it will take, and any other ways that you can let them participate in decision making about their performance.

You could also ask employees to create their own goals for themselves and then discuss them as a team. You might not be aware that someone wants to improve their skills in a certain area or learn more about a specific process. Letting them take on something that they want to learn and feel challenged by will give them more motivation to do the needed work to achieve their other goals as well.


Goal setting is not going to be effective if there is not an opportunity for feedback. What if the person is halfway to completing the goal but they have a question? What if you suspect that the person is going about the process of completing the goal in the wrong way? Feedback is a chance to correct or clarify before the goal has been reached.

Ideally, feedback is a type of progress reporting. It gives the supervisor the chance to clarify expectations and to adjust the level of difficulty of the goal if it seems it’s too hard or too easy. For the employee, it offers a chance to make sure they are meeting their supervisor’s expectations and to get recognition for what they have achieved up to this point. When the goal has been reached, you can also conduct a formal feedback session so that you can discuss what went well and what could use improvement in the future.

Task Complexity

The final principle in Locke and Latham’s goal setting theory is related to the level of complexity of the assigned task. When a role is complex or highly technical, the person in that role is often already highly motivated or else they wouldn’t have reached that level in their organization. However, even the most motivated person can become discouraged if the complexity of the task and the time it would take to complete it wasn’t fully understood. Projects can have the tendency to reveal themselves as being more complex after they have begun, so both the employee and supervisor need to be in communication about how involved a task has become.

In complex or technical work environments, it’s important to make sure that the person has enough time to reach the goal. Unreasonable time expectations will drive a person to overwhelm themselves with work and become less effective as the stress level increases. You may also have to take into account the time necessary to allow for a learning curve or to ramp up their existing skills.


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