Locke’s Goal-Setting Theory: Instill Your Business with Your Personality

Smack your business into shape for a sustainable future

As an entrepreneur, you’re naturally committed to reach your goals. As Eric Malzone said in our Black Diamond Podcast episode ‘Defining the Entrepreneur’, “Entrepreneurs are willing to do things now that other people won’t do, so they can live a life later that other people can’t.”

Wouldn’t it be great if you could instill this motivated, go-get-them personality into your business?

Perhaps using Locke’s goal-setting theory is the key to get your business buzzing in tune with your level of enterprise and conviction.

Getting over 2020, to create a brighter future

Before we discuss Locke’s goal-setting theory and put it into action, we can’t not mention 2020 and how the economy was ravaged by COVID-19. Ken says that small businesses deserve a pat on the back, because they have “done a great job of surviving and, in many cases, of thriving, through all of this.”

He goes on to say that small businesses were “adapting at a faster rate than they ever have done before, and, when new business models emerge in 2021, they’re going to be standing there ready to take advantage of them.”

However, your ability to do this may depend upon ensuring that your team are on the same page as you. They’ve been battered and bruised. They need direction, motivation, and hope. This all comes from you.

What is Locke’s goal-setting theory?

Locke’s goal-setting theory links goals, employee engagement, and productivity. Edwin A. Locke first discussed this in his whitepaper ‘Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives. What Locke unearthed in his studies was that employees are motivated by several factors:

  • Well-defined goals

  • Constructive and positive feedback

  • Specificity and challenge

In further work that Locke conducted with Dr. Gary Latham, and detailed in their 1990s publication ‘A Theory of goal-setting and task performance’, goals were defined as two characteristics: content (which is the outcome of the task) and intensity (which is the mental and physical resource to achieve the outcome).

It was this later work that confirmed that people work best when they have autonomy in the workplace and are involved in the creation of the process to achieve targets.

How do you put the goal-setting into practice?

Now we’ve straightened out what Locke’s theory describes, let’s look at the five steps to use it and stamp your personality on your team.

Step #1: Set specific goals

Set goals for your business, your teams, and individuals. But ensure these goals are specific. There is no place for ambiguity. What does ‘improve your sales’ mean? People understand and can aim for specific goals such as: ‘Improve sales performance by 20% over the next six months’.

Step #2: Make goals challenging

Goals should stretch teams and individuals, but not so much that they are viewed as unachievable. A difficult but reachable target is motivational. An impossible target is demoralizing. Discuss the goals with the team and its members, and ensure they are fully onboard and energized to achieving them. 

Step #3: Activate purpose

People must believe not only that they can achieve the goals set for them, but they must also believe in the purpose behind the goals. Ensure that you link your goals to your purpose – forget about profit, go all in on values: ‘When you connect what you do to why you do it, when you become a values-driven business, growth will come’.

As Ken Andrukow says in our podcast episode ‘The Core Differentiator Is You’, “If you build your business around your values, that makes you unique. No one else can do what you just did. No one else can express your values in the way you just expressed them. That makes you unique.”

Step #4: Create autonomy

Get your team involved in developing the strategy and plans to achieve their goals. Help them to create a roadmap of milestones that will provide waypoints to celebrate along the path to achievement of each goal, and allow them to create processes and procedures that move the team toward their goals.

Step #5: Kick fear of failure into touch

Here’s where your leadership skills are tested to their maximum. People will make mistakes. There will be failures. It’s your role to now remove fear of failure. If people are fearful of failure, they will never push themselves to achieve more.

Provide regular and positive feedback. Coach people to improve and learn from mistakes, and to become self-developers.

Smack your business into shape for a sustainable future

To intrinsically motivate your people, you must involve them in your goals and task creation, and you must give them a degree of autonomy in achieving the goals created. Your people will rise to the challenge, providing you equip them with the knowledge and skills to do so and then act to smack your business into shape:

  • Set specific goals

  • Make goals challenging

  • Activate purpose

  • Create autonomy

  • Kick fear of failure into touch

Putting Locke’s goal-setting theory into practice will help your business grow at a pace your competitors can only dream about. For insight on how to get started and develop a more certain future for your business in an uncertain world, connect with Level 5 Mentors – our purpose is to help you 10x your business growth. 

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