When is goal setting most likely to succeed?

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This is a great question. I would say that there are several important points to keep in mind when it comes to setting and achieving goals. Let me make three points. 

First, it is important that the goals are clearly laid out. Too often in a business context, the goals are vague and for this reason people do not know what to aim for. Hence, the goals must be specific and communicated in a way that is completely understandable. Usually simple is better. 

Second, the goals must also be achievable. Some goals are so lofty that people might give up even before they start. I am not suggesting that goals should not be ambitious, but the people need to know that the goals in view can be achieved through hard work, creativity, and determination.

Third, those who set goals must take inventory of the resources available as well as the people who will be doing the work. In other words, goal makers need to be realistic about talent pool aas well as resources.  

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Goal setting tends to succeed when the goals that are set are not too extravagant, when they are easy to measure, and when people in an organization embrace and accept them.

It is important that the goals be measurable.  If they are, it is possible for everyone to know when they are making progress towards their goals.  If the goals are not measurable, people will have less of a sense of accomplishment as they work to achieve the goals.  This will reduce their motivation.

It is also important that the goals be moderate and acceptable to the members of the organization.  If management sets goals that are too high, employees will be discouraged and will not be as motivated.  If the employees do not think that the goals are ones that should be pursued, they will also not work as well because they will not feel that the goals are important.

Goal setting has the best chance of working if the goals are tangible and moderate and if the members of the organization can agree that the goals are important.

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