Tuesday 12 May 2009

Arguments over goal setting

Goal setting is at the heart of performance management. Without a goal or a way of measuring what constitutes success, performance cannot be managed or improved.

This blog is no stranger to comments about what can or cannot be measured; and it is true – some things cannot be. An unexpected sunny day lifts everyone’s spirits and raises performance without anyone even thinking about it. The sincere comment given to a co-worker about a job well done isn’t designed to be measured, but is just part of a good relationship and recognition of good work.

It has been shown, however, that goals and measurement are powerful weapons in improving performance. Yet stories abound about instances where targets and goals have led to problems; the health service is a favourite with reports about inflexible targets lead to poor patient care. A few of these have been sent to me as if to say “see – that’s what happens when you try to set targets!”

A fascinating paper landed on my desk not long ago that in my view made welcome reading. The authors – Locke and Latham - raise some interesting points about the differences between journalism and the rigors of good social science. One is free to be as emotional and anecdotal as it wishes, whilst the other has standards and aims to use dispassionate and accurate language to argue a point. They quote Campbell and Stanley (1963) who pointed out that:
“Any appearance of absolute knowledge or intrinsic [i.e., general] knowledge about singular isolated objects is found to be illusory upon analysis.”

Only this evening I was up against what seemed to be the injustice of those who have targets to meet. A road traffic incident that might once have been arguable was briskly and efficiently chalked up with another ticket and another day in court. It will no doubt end in more bureaucracy than it is worth but targets have been met and at least two people in uniform went away happy.

Of course there is an alternative: that we park where we want to and pedestrians take their chances. It’s annoying, but maybe goals have their value.


  1. A SIMPLE yet POWERFUL online service that helps in not only SETTING goals, but also in ACHIEVING them.... http://www.OnlineGoalAchiever.com

    Binod Maliel
    Don't Just SET Goals. ACHIEVE Them!

  2. Nyallpurposepaving.com offers Paving Contractor, Parking Lot Repairs, sealing, striping, Oil and Stone Driveways at Riverhead NY, Quogue NY, Hamptons NY, Southampton NY, Sag Harbor NY, Green point NY, Wading River NY, East Moriches NY, Center Moriches NY, Mannorville NY, Miller Place NY , Mt. Sinai NY,Greenport NY

  3. Jettonsgrading.com offers Grading, Excavation and Paving Contractor, Land Clearing Services, Septic Systems, Retaining Walls and Driveways, Drainage Systems, Construction Site Clean-Up, Demolition Contractor at Walhalla SC, Seneca SC

  4. Atopcommercialpaving.com offers Commercial Paving, Asphalt Contractor, and Parking Lot Resurfacing at Queens NY, Nassau County, Bayside NY, Jamaica NY, Middle Village NY, Ozone Park NY, Howard Beach NY, Little Neck NY

  5. Bedbugprocpc.com offers Bed Bug Exterminator, Bed Bug Inspections, Bed Bug Elimination, Bed Bug Inspection for Hotels and Residential and Commercial Bed Bug at Palo Alto CA, San Mateo CA, San Jose CA, Belmont CA, San francisco CA, Redwood City CA, Sunnyvale CA

  6. Complete-pest-control.com offers Pest Control, Exterminator, Rodent Control, Rodent Elimination, and Pest Elimination at Palo Alto CA, San Mateo CA, San Francisco CA, Redwood City CA, Sunnyvale CA, and Belmont CA

  7. Divorce Attorney, Female Divorce Attorneys and Long Island Divorce Attorneys, Long Island Female Divorce Attorneys

  8. Diskdatadestruction.net offers Mobile paper shredding, Mobile hard drive destruction at Hauppauge NY, Suffolk County NY, Long Island NY, Ronkonkoma NY, Melville NY, Huntington NY, Garden City NY, Farmingdale NY, Westbury NY, Bohemia NY, Stony Brook NY, Nassau County NY

  9. Carpet, upholstery cleaning, carpet stain, odor removal, carpet steam, ceramic tile, commercial carpet cleaning at mobile al