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Goal Clarity: “New Toy” vs “Tonka Classic Steel Mighty Dump Truck Vehicle”

Goal Clarity: “New Toy” vs “Tonka Classic Steel Mighty Dump Truck Vehicle”

What’s better than your goals plopping right into your lap? Well, setting goals and drafting blueprints to follow so you can achieve them. The former bypasses the toxic relationship of relying on luck—because luck plays for both sides, the good and the bad.

If you’re in a relationship with luck, get out as fast as you can.

Gone are the days of listing off your wish list and keeping your fingers (and toes) crossed until you unwrap them under the tree, however.

Goal setting is adult stuff and takes into account everything from the type of organization you are with to the clarity of the goal itself—“New Toy” versus “Tonka Classic Steel Mighty Dump Truck Vehicle.”

Anderson and Stritch brought up important nuances as they relate to trying to motivate employees in the public and non-profit sectors (versus the private sector).

Public and non-profit sectors, for instance, have little agency to reward performance with material incentives (typically monetary ones). Further, organizational-goals in this sector tend to be more ambiguous—which lies in direct contrast to goal setting theory, where encouraging individuals to pursue clear and/or difficult goals is shown to increase performance (against vague and easy goals, or rather a “do your best” approach).

They explored the dynamics of goal clarity, task significance, and performance with three set hypotheses. Their findings confirm that goal clarity does, in fact, increase performance yet task significance, contextualized as ‘social’ significance can hinder performance. The authors speculate that this may be the result of heightened conscientiousness and decreased processing speed—quantity, not quality, however. Stop worrying about what the task is or who it affects and do it already!

Notes
1. Anderson, D. M., and J. M. Stritch. 2016. “Goal Clarity, Task Significance, and Performance: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 26(2): 211–225.

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