No matter what stage you’re at in life, or what niche of career you’re in – goal setting is an integral process that many people use to track their progress over a certain time frame.

Being positive and constantly having a set challenge within your daily schedule is undoubtedly a key to success for performance, efficiency, motivation and many more needed traits.

But what goal-setting theories are the most effective? How can you use a goal-setting theory to your advantage? In this blog, we will discuss in further detail more on these questions in particular – helping you improve your business or personal goals.


What is a Goal-Setting Theory?

Before we move on to what the best types of goal-setting theories are, we first need to understand exactly what a goal-setting theory is. Each goal-setting theory, whether it be management goal setting, motivation goal setting or any other relative topic – will entail setting measurable goals to increase productivity and effective working.

If you’re a business owner who is looking to implement a goal-setting theory into the everyday workplace – each employee and member of staff will understand what they have to do, whilst blossoming a healthy communicative relationship with them.

Setting these goals guides an individual to a more thought-out plan of action – meaning they understand exactly what is required of them to deliver within a certain amount of time.


Best Goal-Setting Theories to Use

When it comes to different theories, there have been many that have been tried and tested. Each format of goal setting has to be structured, measurable and easy to understand so that there is no confusion as to when it’s time to act upon the goals.

These goals must inflict some motivation upon a human being so that they are fully committed and have emotion and character towards achieving it. Here are some of the most effective theories that have ever been created to achieve and succeed.


Locke’s Theory

In the late 1960s, Edwin Locke came forward with a completely fresh idea for goal setting. His theory (a goal-setting theory of motivation) was directly linked to completing tasks and increasing the performance of the tasks. He stated that each goal has to be specific and challenging – but feedback is an integral part of benefiting the employee or employees to yield better results.

Edwin Locke’s principles indicate that giving direction to an employee – with how much time they need to complete the task and what needs to be completed will give them an incentive to work towards something. Not only will this increase job motivation, but having a clearer mind will lead to a greater output when it comes to the project.

The Locke goal-setting theory states that each goal that you entail in doing should be realistic to achieve – but also challenging to a certain extent. If there is no challenge, there would essentially be no point in embarking on the task as it won’t be worth your time. However, if it’s too challenging, then it could cause stress or burnout, which would lead to less productive days at work.

Showing the staff that they have an integral involvement in the business and that their input can help achieve success within the business will always lead to better job satisfaction for the individual. Not only will they respect the fact that you trust them in these high-pressure situations, but they will feel a lot more confident in their own ability after the desired task has been accomplished.

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Whether it is for business or life in general – effectively goal setting will always provide you with something to attain. Setting goals has been around for centuries, but physically finding an effective structure has been difficult. However, in 1981, George Duran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham developed the SMART goal for the first time.

Each SMART goal that is set creates tools for a person or company to generate an organised goal with meaning and focus behind it. A SMART goal is an acronym used for the structure that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound. This means that every criterion in this acronym needs to be hit by the time you’ve created the goal – otherwise your chance of fulfilling this goal will be decreased.

But, what do these words mean in the acronym? Here’s a breakdown of what they mean separately.

Specific: Each goal that you’re setting has to be clear, understood and within the employees’ capabilities. It is essential that your employee knows exactly what they have to achieve and the strategic prowess behind it.

Measurable: Tracking your progression along the road to accomplishing the main goals of the company is crucial. Do you have an implementation of a tracking system that allows you to keep everyone up to date with how far along they are with each goal? If progression is not logged, it can become easy to lose sight and motivation of the main goal.

Attainable: If you’re a start-up company trying to put together goals for your employees, it may be worth researching your competitors to see what is attainable. If your goals are either too easy or too extreme – you may find it difficult to get your staff on board with your vision.

Realistic: Similar to the previous part of the acronym, the goal has to make sense. Are your goals realistic? Will there be factors affecting certain parts of your progress to make this near impossible? Asking yourself questions to ensure that something can be possible within your team is paramount.

Time-Bound: For the last part of the acronym – you must designate a timeline for when you want the goal to be attained by. If there is no time frame in place, your employees will have no motivation to get it done within a certain deadline. In essence, a human will always need guidelines and time frames to get tasks done – otherwise, the mind will begin to drift to another priority.