Goal setting the right way

David Witt at Blanchard leader chat  wrote an article dealing with how to avoid pitfalls in setting goals and some ways to avoid them.

Main pitfalls include:


  • Goals are not realistic. Stretch goals are great, but if they are out of reach they become demotivating and can even cause some employees to engage in unethical behavior to achieve them. In addition to making sure a goal is attainable, goals should be monitored and adjusted as needed during the year.
  • Setting too many goals. When employees have too many goals they can easily lose track of what is important and spend time on the ones they “want” to do or that are easier to accomplish whether or not they are the highest priority.
  • Setting goals and then walking away. Goal setting is the beginning of the process, not an end in itself. Once goals are set, managers need to meet regularly to provide support and direction to help employees achieve their goals.
  • Setting a “how” goal instead of a “what” goal. Goals should indicate “what” is to be accomplished—the end in mind—not “how” it should be accomplished.


I agree on all the warnings, given the fact that if objectives are not measurable in the right way or are too disperse they will be the basis for:

  1. frustrating people
  2. creating motivation problems within the team
  3. not achieving goals

My company uses from a long time the well known SMART methodology and, at the end works well.

I add my own tip: creating a good performance culture in your company, starting from management attention to this, will help in creating also a culture at lower levels. The more you make this happen, the easier will be to make people understand that goal setting goes well beyond performance bonuses 🙂

This post as a comment also here. Feel free to discuss also on our forums.

Author: hotrao

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