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Goal Setting
by Andrew E. Schwartz

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It is not uncommon for a supervisor to begin a project with his or her department with the best of intentions, only to see its execution deteriorate, become sloppy, late or even incomplete. A project’s results sometimes suggest to the manager that the assignment was never understood, and in a worst scenario, the project may never see completion. Despite the frequent occurrence of failed assignments, some managers see the repetition of them again and again, never comprehending the force behind such failures. Often the key to turning such disappointments into successes is the widely-misunderstood and woefully under-utilized managerial tool of goal setting.

All to frequently, the process of goal-setting is either improperly implemented or ignored altogether, frequently resulting in unfortunate missed opportunities in many organizations.

Managers need to understand the importance of the process in management. And they must learn the criteria for establishing goals, along with the prominence of goal review and commitment in the goal-setting process. So what does goal setting offer?

It closes the manager—employee gap. Often there are misunderstandings, miscommunication, or even no communication at all between upper management and lower level employees regarding company goals and plans. By setting reasonable goals with each employee, a supervisor can truly bridge this communication gap. After all, the employees actually perform the required work and such a lack of communication can leave employees feeling frustrated, not understanding their roles within the organization.

It assists the supervisor in employee reviews. Goal setting provides necessary foundation for employee performance appraisals. There can never be a really equitable appraisal review for any employee unless clearly defined goals have been mutually set several weeks (or months) prior to the review. By establishing both reasonable and achievable goals with an employee, the supervisor lays the foundation for meaningful reviews in the eventual performance measurement.

It provides a realistic assessment of manager expectations. The goal-setting process provides an organization with a “reality check” of a manager’s attainment of both short-term and long-term objectives. This process can measure a manager’s ability to be specific, detailed and thoroughly communicative to employees. Merely conveying a broad idea of goals to employees will not automatically insure that the goals will be met. It must be carefully explained and thoroughly understood.

It insures the goal’s own achievement. Effective goal setting provides a platform for the continuous coaching process that necessarily follows it. By using a clear-cut and measurable goal as a starting point, the techniques of coaching are greatly facilitated. If a supervisor follows the well set goal in progress, he can quickly catch any errors that may endanger or stall the goal’s completion. To put this idea in a different perspective, it is far easier for a supervisor to perform a good coaching job when both the employee and the supervisor know in advance what is expected in the way of performance.


Andrew E. Schwartz, CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates of Boston, MA a comprehensive management training and professional development organization offering over 40 skills specific programs and practical solutions to today's business challenges.

Copyright, AE Schwartz & Associates. All rights reserved.
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