The idea that human behavior is motivated and regulated by goals and aspirations has long been recognized by psychologists. Goal-Setting Theory can be traced back to Edwin Locke and Gary Latham; they elaborated on the basic notion of goal setting and have described how this drives behavior in organization. Goal-setting theory helps to explain individual differences in motivation and performance. Goals are defined as the desired outcomes in terms of level of performance to be attained on a task rather that the desire to take specific section (Muchinsky, 2005).
It is thus a person’s intention to attain developed goals that can serve as a principal determinant of motivation. For instance, as a student I have a goal of attaining an A grade on this subject which would motivate me to study well and participate more in class in order to achieve my goal. According to Locke, goals have motivational value for three reasons which are: goals serve to direct and focus our attention particular direction; goals help us to maintain task persistence; and the existence of goals tends to facilitate the development task strategies.
Attributes of goals that make them motivating are the difficulty, acceptance, specificity and feedback to motivate performance. It has been viewed that goals that are difficult are more motivating than easier goals. For instance, a salesperson is going to be more motivated if he has a goal of making $10,000 in commission, rather than a goal of $5,000. The second attribute is the goal acceptance, wherein a person would believe that he can attain a particular goal set to him or by him.
Goals are much more motivating when they are specified in a particular level of performance, example, an individual must be able to sell 10 units of apartments in the next month rather than ‘be a good salesperson’ which is very vague motivation. Attaining a goal is often a hard process; thus it is important that employees receive feedback regarding their progress and once a goal is accomplished a pleasurable emotional state called job satisfaction will be experience. Principles of goal-setting theory has been a very influential approach and one of the most valid and practiced theories of employee motivation in organizational psychology.