Most of us have to state and fill in our KPIs or Key Performance Indicators at the beginning of the financial year. You get to set quantifiable goals and find the best ways to evaluate the success of your performance. You’re better aware of your needs and expectations and your objectives drive your decision-making. KPIs are a part of a much larger narrative of goal-setting.

The goal-setting process is the brainchild of Edwin A. Locke, an American psychologist. He came to be known as the pioneer of the goal-setting theory of motivation. 

Read on to learn more about Locke’s Goal-Setting Theory and how you can use it for professional success. 

A Look Into The Goal-Setting Theory Of Motivation

In 1968, Edward Locke proposed the theory of goal-setting in Toward A Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives. He found out that employees work with greater efficiency when they have well-defined goals to pursue. He further demonstrated that people are motivated to work harder when they have a particular target in mind. 

When we have goals, we push ourselves because we want to do better. Positive feedback and monitoring the progress are some ways in which we can stay focused and motivated while pursuing our goals.  

The theory of goal-setting depends on two key factors:

  • Self-efficiency: 

This refers to an individual’s belief in their potential of performing an activity. Higher levels of self-efficiency encourage you to put in extra effort and overcome hurdles. Lower levels of self-efficiency may force you to give up while meeting challenges.

  • Goal Commitment: 

The theory of goal-setting assumes that an individual is committed to a goal and will pursue it till fruition. But an individual will only stay committed when they create realistic goals that align with the greater objectives.

The Five Principles Of Locke’s Goal-Setting Theory

Gary P. Latham, a professor of organizational effectiveness, and Locke collaborated in the 1990s and expanded on the theory of goal-setting. They proposed five core principles that contribute to an employee’s workplace productivity and success. Here are the five goal-setting principles that enhance your professional growth:

  1. Clarity

A goal should be well-defined and specific. Measurable goals with clear deadlines lead to greater output and better performance. For example, “sales should increase by 33% this quarter” is better than “I need to do better than the last quarter”.

  1. Challenging

Your goals should be challenging enough to motivate you and should get you out of your comfort zone. You’ll look at the bigger picture and strive to accomplish more. In other words, challenging goals create a growth mindset as you believe in your capacity to do more. For example, friendly competition with teammates is an effective motivator.

  1. Commitment

Improve your commitment to your goals by holding yourself accountable. You can implement checks and balances that’ll help you stay focused. Align your personal goals with the organization’s goals to maintain consistency. Gauge the overall expectations before you commit to any goal.

  1. Feedback

At the core of the goal-setting theory of motivation lies feedback and communication. Feedback helps you gauge expectations and adjust your plan of action accordingly. Feedback also acts as a good measure for tracking progress. Keep in mind that feedback is a two-way street—not only can you expect feedback but also provide it.

  1. Task Complexity

If your goals are complex and you don’t have the necessary resources to meet them, then you’re minimizing your chances of success. Always remember to keep it simple and set reasonable expectations and timelines. One way to navigate complex goals is by breaking them down into smaller goals—this makes it easier to stay driven and consistent.

Lead Yourself And Pursue Success

To effectively apply these five key principles to your goal-setting process, you need to recognize your areas of improvement. Harappa Education’s Leading Self course will help you identify your true potential. The Ladder of Learning framework will guide you in developing a growth mindset, while the Performance Equation framework will teach you everything about overcoming limiting beliefs. Identify the right opportunities for personal growth and lead yourself to success!  


Explore topics such as Goal Setting, What are SMART GoalsHow to Achieve GoalsTypes of Goals & the Difference Between Objectives and Goals from Harappa Diaries and achieve your goals with grit and determination.

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