Goal setting in management: principles and methods

Goal settings
Ted Scott
Ted Scott
7 February 2024
9 min

Without the right goals it is impossible to move forward. Living one day at a time, without thinking about the future, a person simply floats downstream, relying entirely on the will of fate. With a good set of circumstances and a worthy environment, this can be tolerated for some time. But if you do nothing and wait for everything to “somehow work itself out”, it will sooner or later lead to chronic stress and disappointment in life.

In project management, there is a separate term for goal setting, the conscious identification of personal needs and motivations. It is called “goal setting”.

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What is meant by goal setting

This phenomenon is present in the life of every person. Each of us consciously or unconsciously sets goals for ourselves or others. The choice of goals, methods of their achievement are determined on the basis of human needs. They help to determine in what direction to move through life, what steps to take to achieve a cherished dream.

The goal-setting process is based on needs. First of all, a person needs what he really needs. This is followed by the motives that drive the action. Motivation is one of the decisive factors that help to achieve a goal. The third component is awareness. Understanding what it is for. Conscious goal setting and planning help you become successful in life and business.

Many people have noticed that work tasks always have to be completed on time, while personal matters are often put off “for later”, until better times. This is due to the fact that work tasks are always limited by deadlines, controlled by a supervisor, and require working communication on the results of their fulfillment. Without a clear system it is impossible to achieve results. In simple words, success and life satisfaction directly depends on the chosen priorities. This is fully applicable to businesses or organizations. Due to the lack of strategy and structure of goals, they will develop chaotically, making unnecessary mistakes. This will reduce the chances of desired development and reduce the competitiveness of the company.

Proper goal setting helps to achieve the following results:

  • Improve performance in work and personal life. The right goals that coincide with a person’s values, needs, and motivations will help achieve greater results with less effort.
  • Introduce the concepts of priority, importance into the life of a person, a company. Actions that lead to the achievement of goals – have a high priority.
  • Gain time management skills. To achieve your goals, you need to plan your actions carefully.
  • To make work in the company systematized and harmonious. Depending on the chosen goal, the way of interaction between employees and company departments is determined, and its work processes are organized.

Properly building goals fills life with meaning. After all, if a person does not have his own goals in life, he will have to work for those who have them.

How to use goal-setting techniques

How to use goal-setting techniques

Goals are important in life and work. It’s hard not to agree with that. But how do you learn to form correct, correct goals?

For this purpose, the principles of goal setting have been developed with the help of psychology:

  1. The activity of any person is based on an unconscious and objective need. Sometimes the need for something is imposed on him from the outside. This refers to physiological, basic needs. For example, a person can not live without food or sleep. These factors are represented in Maslow’s pyramid of needs.
  2. A person’s conscious needs are determined by his volitional qualities and motivation. In the course of life, new motives appear, competing with each other. The most important ones appear at the top of the ladder of needs. Goals are formed from them. To confirm the importance, significance of each motivation in the motivational process there are special subjects – motivation. Motivation is a complex of motives to justify any object.
  3. A goal is formed from a dream or desire when one realizes what one wants to achieve. At the first stages of goal setting, it is a benchmark or ideal image. Over time, it becomes clearer with the help of plans and tasks.
  4. The target is considered based on the projected event.
  5. There are always discrepancies between the initial goal, the prediction of its achievement and the final result.
  6. The essence of a goal is formed by the process of achieving it and the means required to achieve it. This requires the development of a plan consisting of the steps to be taken to achieve the desired result.
  7. Even the best and clearest plan is adjusted as it moves towards the goal due to the impact of various external factors. That is, the identification and forecast of resources and processes required to achieve it will always differ from the final result.
  8. Clarity, specificity of the goal affects motivation, desire to achieve it.
  9. Dominant personal motives in the initial stages of goal setting distort the potential of the goal.
  10. Motivation to achieve a goal increases as you get closer to it.

Goal setting and planning is a long and complex process that does not end with the formation of goals. In the course of their realization, problems inevitably arise, because of which the movement has to be corrected. Advice from psychologists, special technologies and goal-setting techniques help to minimize possible problems.

Purpose-setting rules

Purpose-setting rules

The following rules can be used to set goals correctly.

  • Positive wording. The goal should relate to what you want to accomplish. Example, you want to stop smoking. This goal statement would be incorrect. The correct goal is “I want to be healthy.” It is better to avoid the particle “not” in the description of the goal.
  • Control over execution. When setting a certain goal, it is important to have an active influence on it. For example, an increase in salary. If you wait for the fulfillment of this dream inertly, without doing anything, it risks to remain unfulfilled. But, if you phrase it as: “What must I do to…” – it will come under your control and you will be able to manage it.
  • Sensory Tangibility. An achieved goal is an accomplished state of action that can be touched, seen, measured. For example, you set a goal to fly to Sochi. You will learn about its achievement at the airport of arrival. And, if you have chosen learning English as a goal, but do not know the signs of achieving the desired result, you can devote your whole life to this process. But, you won’t achieve anything in the end. Therefore, at the goal-setting stage, you should ask yourself the questions: “How do I know that the goal has been achieved?” and “What will I see, feel, and hear when I achieve the desired result?”.
  • Access to resources. To achieve the desired result, appropriate means are needed. In their selection and determination will help to ask the questions: “What do I need?”, “Where can I get the resources to realize what I have planned?”, “Who will help me?”, “How can I convince these people to help?”.
  • First step. When you set a goal, you need to move towards it without stopping. Steps can be tiny, but regular and systematic. Your goal: to buy a new car? Then at least go to the appropriate website and start searching for offers on the market.

To become successful in life and business, you need to set your own goals. Copying your neighbor or a famous millionaire, you will never achieve the desired result. Only by understanding yourself and honestly answering questions can you come to conscious goal-setting.

Real-life goal-setting methods

goal-setting methods

For goal setting in management more than 30 techniques are used with different approaches to selecting and setting goals, by mission, by several functions, by topic, for example, educational or managerial, and other criteria. Let’s consider the most popular goal-setting techniques that can be used for planning personal life and business development.

Goal tree

The authors of this method are American scientists Charles Churchman and Russell Ackoff, who developed it within the framework of system analysis in 1957. The approach is based on the definition of a key goal from which the first and second order goals, their corresponding sub-goals, tasks and problems related to each other are derived.

The objectives are written down on a piece of paper as follows:

  • At the top is the main, overarching goal.
  • Underneath it are the first, second plan goals that help in achieving it.
  • And so on down to the bottom level.

A list of the resources required to accomplish the objective is indicated next to each item. The objective tree should follow the principles of consistency, orderliness and visibility.

SMART methodology

This technique of goal setting clearly describes the resources and tools needed to obtain the desired result within a specified timeframe. Its abbreviation contains 5 criteria of goal quality, which can be called as follows:

  • Specific. It should be described very clearly and have a concrete result.
  • Measurable. Its wording should include a figure or benchmark to be achieved.
  • Achievable. It must be achievable. Have specific, numerically or quantitatively measurable results.
  • Relevant. This is especially true for long-term, strategic goals. If necessary, they should be adjusted in a timely manner.
  • Time-bound. A goal should have a deadline for fulfillment.

In practice, this can be characterized as follows:

  • Specifies, describes the end results(S).
  • Justifies their importance, necessity for the company (R).
  • An assessment of the possibility of achieving the goal (A) is given.
  • The criteria by which its performance will be evaluated are selected (M).
  • The timeframe for implementation (T) is set.

Incorrect SMART goal value: To become the best department in the company.

The correct one: increase product sales by 40% by December 31, 2022.

Brian Tracy Methodology

The prioritization algorithm proposed by business coach Brian Tracy resembles the SMART method. The author of the method suggests writing ten goals for the year on a sheet of paper. They should sound as if they have already been accomplished. For example: ” I bought a new car for 10,000 dollars”. The wording should be as transparent and specific as possible.

When all 10 goals have been drawn up, they should be reread carefully. Those that evoke more vivid emotions and impressions are put on top – they will be prioritized. They are duplicated on the second sheet of paper and thoroughly worked out using SMART technology.

Balance wheel

This method, developed by Paul Meyer, is based on visualization. Its idea is to highlight the main spheres of life, understanding the correctness of goals. This technique is effective in restoring harmony between personal life and career growth.

A circle is drawn. It is divided into 8 sectors. In each of them you write down the area of life where you want to achieve certain heights: Family, Health, Work, Hobbies, etc. A 10-point scale is drawn on the lines of the sectors. Assessing their achievements in each sector, they need to put a score from 1 to 10, marking it on the scale with a dot. When all the dots are placed, they are connected and shaded. Unshaded areas are possible areas of growth and goal setting. This method is suitable for personal life and business.

Main stages of goal setting

Regardless of the methodology chosen, the goal-setting process includes the following steps:

  • Clarification of motives and needs. The significance and usefulness of the goal is clarified.
  • Identifying an appropriate goal-setting tool.
  • Drawing up a step-by-step plan of movement to the goal and its further realization.

No matter how precise and meticulous the plan is, it is always necessary to leave room for possible “maneuvers”. It is necessary to plan resources and execution time with a reserve, in order to be able to make adjustments in the course of its execution. Then the movement towards the goal will be confident and successful.

LeaderTask – an effective tool for successful goal setting

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To quickly achieve your goals, you need to formulate them correctly. The modern and functional task manager LeaderTask will help you with this. The application is ideal for planning, project and task management. With its help, you can create assignments, set deadlines for their execution. The program will monitor the accuracy of their execution. It will remind you of the approaching deadline. It will not let you lose sight of any of the important tasks.

The program’s functionality includes:

  • Planning for the day, week, month, year.
  • Collaborative project work.
  • Assigning tasks to employees.
  • Tree structure of projects, tasks with subtasks.
  • Assigning them statuses, color labels, distribution by priority of execution.
  • Visualization of project work using Kanban technology.
  • Notifications of upcoming events, new assignments.
  • Checklists for recording errands and to-do’s.

LeaderTask application has the capabilities of an effective task manager, daily planner, scheduler, electronic secretary, which will take control of the fulfillment of all tasks on the way to achieving the goal.


Goal setting plays an important role in the activity of any company. It helps to develop the right attitudes, choose the most convenient path, the movement along which will give the desired result. Goals should be measurable, realistic and realizable. Take into account the specifics and potential of the enterprise. For their successful achievement, regular planning is necessary, taking into account possible changes.

The specificity and clarity of the goal determines the success of its achievement. If it is unclear, it gives reason to doubt its reality. This often happens with overestimated or too global goals. On the one hand, they form the meaning of life. It is natural for people to dream about something personal. But, more effective will be a person interested in common goals in addition to personal ones.

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