Friday, January 11, 2013

Goal Setting and Motivated Behavior in the Workplace

Goal directed behavior exists within the motivational aspirations of the employee. Nearly all behavior is seen as having some goal or objective that is striving to be fulfilled. Focused goal directed behavior is not driven by environmental conditioning or instinct alone (Locke, 1997). Such behavior must be made through the free choice of options and turned from thoughts into actions. It has a specific goal outcome that employee hopes to achieve by putting forth the energy into a strategy that finally reaches its desired outcome.

Employees will set all types of goals throughout their entire spectrum of influence. Management's job is to help employees ensure that those goals that pertain to the workplace are appropriate for both the employer and employee. Through such directed goals organizations can seek higher levels of alignment between employee actions and organizational needs. True alignment exists when the totality of employee goals further foster the strategic objectives of the organization.

There are three major theories management can use to encourage higher levels of goal alignment and performance in organizations. According to Lock the theories include Management by Objectives, Human Relations and Valence-Instrumentality-Expectancy (VIE) Theory and Job Enrichment and Organizational Behavior Modification (OB Mod)(Locke, 1978). They are as follows:

1.) Management by Objectives (MBO): Under this theory each employee works toward the fulfillment of tasks each day (Taylor, 1911). Through coaching, counseling and oversight employees can be encouraged to meet targeted objectives. As employees are often motivated by rewards the piecemeal rate was developed.

2.) Valence-Instrumentality-Expectancy (VIE) Theory: Victor Vroom believed that valence, expectancy, and instrumentality lead to employees avoiding pain and moving toward motivational pleasure (Vroom, 1964). People exert effort to complete tasks that have workplace outcomes. Valence can be described as the need, expectancy as the expected outcome and instrumentality is the workplace result/reward. Later work includes task/goal setting to achieve outcomes.

3.) Cognitive Growth and OB Mod: Maslow and Herzberg believed that workers have a need to develop a genuine sense of self-worth (Herzberg, 1966). Through appropriate goal setting, feedback, and job enrichment employees can continue to expand their abilities and skill which leads to feelings of self-worth. The theory later included specific goal setting to help employees move in the right direction for self-evaluation.

Each of these theories provide some level of insight into the motivational aspects of behavior within the workplace. It is necessary for employees to first want to achieve some objective and then put their effort toward the achievement of that objective. Each of the theories eventual included goal setting as a method of directing employees along a particular path.

Herzberg, F. (1966). Work and the nature of man. Cleveland: World Publishing Company

Locke, E. (1978). The ubiquity of the technique of goal setting in theories of and approaches to employee motivation. Academy of Management Review, 3 (3).

Locke, E. (1977). The myths of behavior mod in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 2.

Taylor, F. (1911). The principles of scientific management. New York: Norton.

Vroom, Victor H. (1964). Work and motivation. John Wiley & Sons, Inc

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