Leadership and Managing Employee Performance Through Goal Setting
Even in the face of acceptable levels of organizational performance, many leaders fail to fully use goal setting to develop employees, realize significant efficiencies, and improved customer satisfaction. Leadership and employee performance are more often than not directly related. This is great news because everyone can improve in some way. Meaning that opportunities exist for leaders, employees, and customers. Studies have been conducted to determine if a relationship exists between leader behavior and employee performance. One study conducted by Edwin A. Locke and Gary P. Latham indicated that, “supportiveness on the part of the supervisors is important because it gives people the confidence and trust to set or accept high goals, which in turn lead to high levels of performance” (Locke and Latham, 1984). Effective goal setting and employee commitment to goal realization is influenced by the relationship between employee and manager, reinforcing the potential impact of leadership style on employee performance. Leadership studies make apparent the impact of leader behavior on employee performance emphasizing the importance of the leader’s characteristics and ability to inspire employees. John C. Maxwell explains, “People buy into the leader first, then the leader’s vision” (Maxwell, 1998).
Leadership authorities, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, indicate that goal setting is important to employees and directly influences their performance. They acknowledge that opinions differ regarding who is most appropriate to set goals but that the value of goal setting to the organization is unquestionable. They explain, “The lesson for leaders is to make sure that whenever people engage in something they know why it is important and what end it’s serving. This knowledge helps people feel more alive, more in charge, and more significant” (Kouzes and Posner, 2002).
Organizations have norms for goal setting practices. Consider how goals are set within your organization. Do you work with your supervisor to set your goals in a participative manner or are you given goals as directives? If you are positioned to set goals with your staff reflect upon how you establish goals with or for them and the impact your style may have on their effectiveness. Leadership and employee performance can be impacted by the relationship between leaders and employees. Whether you are a leader, employee or both, consider ways in which you can improve relationships and performance.