Goal Commitment?

What affects the strength of commitment to goals? How does this affect goal attainment? Goal commitment is our determination to pursue a course of action that will lead to the goal we aspire to achieve (Bandura, 1986). The strength of goal commitment will affect how hard one will try to attain the goal. Goal commitment is affected by the properties described thus far: difficulty and specificity. For example, when goals are too difficult, commitment declines, followed by a drop-off in performance (Locke & Latham, 1990).

What is Goal Commitment?

“Degree to which a person is determined in achieving a desired (or required) goal.”

Goals are central to current treatments of work motivation, and goal commitment is a critical construct in understanding the relationship between goals and task performance. Despite this importance, there is confusion about the role of goal commitment and only recently has this key construct received the empirical attention it warrants. This meta-analysis, based on 83 independent samples, updates the goal commitment literature by summarizing the accumulated evidence on the antecedents and consequences of goal commitment. Using this aggregate empirical evidence, the role of goal commitment in the goal-setting process is clarified and key areas for future research are identified.

Commitment is also affected by goal intensity, goal participation, and peer influence.

Goal Intensity: Commitment is related to goal intensity, or the amount of thought or mental effort that goes into formulating a goal and how it will be attained (Locke & Latham, 1990). This is similar to goal clarification because when we clarify a goal, we are involved in a conscious process of collecting information about the goal and task and our ability to attain it (Schutz, 1989). In a study of fifth graders, Henderson (cited in Locke & Latham, 1990) found that students who formulated a greater number of reading purposes with more detail and elaboration attained their goals to a greater extent than did students with superficial purposes. Although there was no difference in IQ scores of the groups, the students who set more goals with elaboration were better readers. It stands to reason that the more thought that is given to developing a goal, the more likely one will be committed to the goal.

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Goal Participation: How important, motivationally, is it for people to participate in goal setting? This is an important question because goals are often assigned by others at home, school, and work. The state imparts curriculum standards or goals to teachers, who in turn impose them on students. A sales manager may assign quotas to individual salespersons. Letting individuals participate in setting goals can lead to greater satisfaction. Nevertheless, telling people to achieve a goal can influence self-efficacy because it suggests they are capable of achieving the goal (Locke & Latham, 1990).

To investigate the effects of assigned and self-set goals, Schunk (1985) conducted a study of sixth-grade students with LD who were learning subtraction. One group was assigned goals (e.g., “Why don’t you try to do seven pages today”). A second group set goals themselves (e.g., “Decide how many pages you can do today”). A third group worked without goals. Students who self-set goals had the highest self-efficacy and math scores. Both goal groups demonstrated higher levels of self-regulation than the control group without any goals.

Nevertheless, Locke and Latham (1990) concluded that self-set goals are not consistently more effective than assigned goals in increasing performance. The crucial factor in assigned goals is acceptance. Once individuals become involved in a goal, the goal itself becomes more important than how it was set or whether it was imposed. Because, at work and in schools, goals are often assigned by others, it is important that the assigned goals be accepted by participants. Joint participation in goal setting by teachers and students may increase the acceptance of goals.

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Peer Influence: One factor where teachers might be influential in promoting goal acceptance and commitment is peer influence. Strong group pressures are likely to increase commitment to goals (Locke & Latham, 1990). This group cohesiveness is more often found on athletic teams. Obviously, the coach wants a strong commitment to the team goals. In the classroom, group goals may aid the commitment of students working in cooperative learning groups and thus lead to a higher quality of work.

An Entrepreneur will need to do if you want to commit towards achievement:

I. Make sure that your business goals are achievable.

The biggest enemy of achieving business goals is setting up unrealistic goals. For example, if you set the goal to increase sales by 500%, although growth of the industry is lower than 10% it is sure that 500% would be unrealistic.

If you notice that some goal cannot be achieved, simply adjust it in the line with the reality. For example, use 15% increasing in sales instead of 500%. The goal with 15% would be much more realistic, and certainly, it will be as an imperative for you and your business to achieve it because it is above-average in the industry.

II. Use specific sentences in your business goals.

Imagine the goal from our example above: increasing sales in the future. For how much we will need to increase the sales? In which time we will need to increase the sales? This is a really confusing and undetermined goal. If you don’t know what to achieve and when to achieve, you will probably not even try to achieve it.

III. Write your business goals on the paper.

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There are different scientific researches that prove that if you put something on a paper, your commitment to that something is will be higher. In his book Influence; The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini gives an example from Korean war in which the Chinese soldiers in the camps where he held prisoners (soldiers) were looking for written statements that communism is better than the US system to write on the paper. Thus a long time they were committed to his own statement in which basically they did not believe it.

If your business goals are written on paper they will be in a group with a higher commitment than the goals that remain only in our head.

IV. Determine the activities that must be accomplished.

Knowing the activities that must be implemented to achieve your business goals in advance will increase the level of commitment to the goal. Therefore, once you have the goal of paper, list the activities.

V. Assign responsible for each activity.

At the end of each activity assign responsibility for implementations. In such a way, the commitment will be transferred to the employees or your team members, and at the same time will assure achievement.