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Goal Statements: Are you intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?

I am sitting with a small thoughtful group of managers and we are discussing how to go about creating goal statements for their employees. Here is where the rubber meets the road. We know that goals need to be S.M.A.R.T., that is, specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented and time bound, but how do we morph “be a good team player” into a goal statement that’s fits these criteria?

One of the managers offers that the employee he has in mind is her own worst enemy. She has little faith in her ability to contribute at a higher level. He would like her to simply feel confident enough to contribute more to the team.  He creates a goal that is intended to help the employee feel more skilled and knowledgeable.

Another manager has an employee in mind that need to get along with others and would like to create a goal that will require her to alter her behavior or be cut from the team. This manager thinks like an athlete and knows that a solid team requires give and take, and an understanding of strengths and weakness among team players. He creates a goal that will help the employee focus on generating feedback from her team.

These two goal orientations for “teamwork” distinguish between learning goals which are intrinsically motivating, such as feeling more competent and performance goals which focus on extrinsically motivating rewards, such as positive feedback.  Although goals are typically a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, it is important to craft our goal statements with some awareness of which we intend to target.

Goal setting is more difficult than anyone gives it credit to be. We might begin where the potential is greatest: the employee’s natural inclination. If we don’t know, we can find out with a few questions:

  1. Do you care more about praise and recognition for a job well done, or doing a job which you find meaningful and enriching, even if you don’t receive praise for it?
  2. Is there any part of your job which you would do, whether or not you were paid to do it?
  3. Do you prefer to work on your own and determine your own outcomes, or do you prefer getting more feedback along the way, so you are sure you are getting things right?

Do you find that it is important to get feedback about your progress toward goals, or do you generally already know how you are doing, and therefore are not too concerned about it?

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