How often do you set goals to keep you focused on your desires? If you feel as though you are stuck at a dead-end, it’s easy to lose motivation and feel as though you aren’t able to move forward.

Setting specific objectives is vital for development – be it professionally, or personally. But for businesses, in particular, creating a set of targets is a highly effective practice that can increase motivation, task engagement and productivity amongst employees.

You can ensure employees remain motivated at work by setting strong goals with them, inducing a stronger sense of focus and the ability to prioritise as they complete tasks with a newfound purpose. In today’s blog post, we’ll be outlining exactly how to set effective goals, and exploring why they are so important in the workplace.

What is goal setting?

The definition boils down to the process of identifying something you want to accomplish and establishing measurable objectives and timeframes to help you achieve it. But, goals don’t have to just be set by yourself, they can be set by other people for you too (i.e. a manager) – pushing you further to achieve the targets put in place and keeping you motivated at work.

Many people, however, have difficulty setting the right goals – you may say ‘I want to get promoted’ but this isn’t truly measurable and the path to achieving this isn’t clear. For example, when will you have been promoted by? Without specifying, it becomes impossible to work towards achieving this goal and as a result, celebrating the success becomes meaningless.

How they keep you motivated at work: Why goal-setting works

So, how do targets have such a powerful impact on our performance? Goal setting helps decide what is important, and what should therefore be a focus for an individual – they are fundamental to success.  Effective targets can see employees overcome procrastination as they can visualise the bigger picture. Furthermore, they remain accountable as together you can evaluate their progress towards achieving the desired outcome.

Think of a goal as the vehicle, driving a team member towards a final destination. We’ve broken down exactly why they work so effectively: 

#1 Trigger behaviour

A clear, compelling target mobilizes your focus toward actionable behaviour. Put simply, having a goal will keep you motivated at work. Let’s say, for example, your goal is to increase your sales. However, the issue here is that the end state isn’t specific enough to motivate you and you’re likely to struggle to meet this target. Whereas, if we try “Increase my sales by 15% by the end of July, so I can ask for a pay rise” now, there is something to aspire towards; a mental cue triggers your focus and motivates you to challenge yourself at work. 

#2 Guide focus

Setting a goal naturally directs your attention toward the next step in the process and, as a result, leads you in the right direction – forcing your actions/behaviour to follow suit. When you begin envisioning an end goal, your body will follow with the right action to bring round success.

With a target in your sight, you’re likely to stay away from certain distractions too. Locking into your goal is vital to achieving it – bear in mind that a long-term objective could lead to further procrastination. Breaking in down to a goal per day is far easier to stick to rather than one daunting target with a deadline 3-months away. 

#3 Build momentum

There’s a reason you’re always told to take progress pictures in the gym! It’s addictive visually seeing your accomplishments and this, in turn, can cause a snowball-like effect. Just as a snowball grows in size and is rolled down a hill, building momentum works in exactly the same way – you’re on a roll. When you reach this state of optimal performance, it’s likely you won’t want to stop and you are able to complete tasks highly effectively. 

#4 Align focus

When you have a set goal in mind, you can evaluate and receive feedback on your progress. The actions you take (or choose to avoid) will allow you to identify your strengths and weaknesses which subsequently, can ensure you can reset, and correct your path. 

#5 Promote self-mastery

Perhaps most importantly, goals work because they build character and allow you to achieve self-sufficiency. When you accomplish exactly what you had in sight, you develop yourself to be the type of person you want to be. 

The process of goal setting is important because it helps unearth and identify what’s truly important to you, and ensures you pursue these desires. 

motivated at work

Setting a compelling objective

Goal setting alone is not enough to guarantee success. The kind of goal you set, and how you set it, affects your performance. So, what are the two main types to keep you motivated at work?

Performance goals

Performance goals are short-term objectives typically related to our current position and used to measure progress. These goals align with organisational goals: “Become the leading provider of XX services by the end of the year”, “win the award for XYZ next year”. This style of goal setting will usually be reflected on annually. 

Whilst performance goals have their place, they rely on external motivation and expose us to continual cycles of success or failure.

Mastery goals

Mastery goals are about ongoing improvement: “Grow the business into three new sectors in the next 12 months” or “build team’s skills in XYZ in Q1” for example. They focus attention on systematically solving a problem. Mastery goals rely more on internal motivation and encourage us to focus on incremental growth and adaptation.

SMART goal setting

We’ve all been told to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) but these tend to be overlooked as unnecessarily complicated. However, a SMART objective is an essential method to ensure you have created a clear and compelling end outcome (they’re called smart for a reason!). Follow these simple steps to ensure you master the art of effective goal setting:

#1 Have a brainstorming session. Set aside 5 minutes and write down everything you’d like to achieve over the course of the three years professionally. List as many things as you can in this time. Remember to challenge yourself! 

#2 Refine your goals. Go through this list and refine each target, considering how long each will take to understand what is achievable and realistic. 

#3 Review your list. Go over what you’ve written. Choose your top four goals – this will identify what is truly important to you, and allow you to prioritise appropriately. Write a short paragraph about why it is essential you achieve these targets. 

#4 Evaluate your goals. Do these goals for the SMART structure? Ensure each objective has a purpose by following this acronym. 

Need an example?

  • Gain four new clients for my business this quarter by conducting 3 or more customer meetings each week
  • Deliver customer support with a 90%+ Satisfied/Very Satisfied customer satisfaction rate and reduce overall customer contact volume by 10% in the next 3 months
  • Grow my network by having at least one lunch each week on average this quarter with an external professional relationship
  • Present to two or more internal employees per quarter to improve confidence and presenting skills. Improve industry knowledge by attending 3+ industry events and provide a write-up to the rest of the team on key learnings afterwards

Keeping motivated at work: The conclusion

It can be a struggle to remain motivated professionally, but to overcome this requires little effort and this small effort will have a huge impact, providing you with the right results. The use of goal setting can ensure you continue to challenge yourself, propelling yourself forward within the workplace. Dedicating a short amount of time to carefully curating a set of goals that align with your desires is crucial, both as an employee and as a business. Remember, however, that you must set specific, achievable goals for them to be beneficial otherwise you may find yourself treading water and ultimately not getting to where you want to be!

We can clearly see that setting goals provides a variety of different benefits, but still not sure where to begin? At Azimuth, we provide dedicated and expert advice to ensure your business can reach its full potential. Together, we’ll identify areas of improvement and provide the support you need to successfully implement the right processes, guaranteeing results that deliver. Contact us today at or call +44 (0)1483 24 33 81 and we’ll be more than happy to discuss how we can help you. 

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