Who has not heard of Goal Setting particularly the SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Attainable , Realistic and Time Bound) Many of us might have attended training programs on Goal setting , but then in spite of all the hype and the hoopla why does it become a such a stressor? In spite of all the SMART goals, why do 95% people give up on the new year resolutions? I have even heard some executives saying that the only resolution they make is not to have a resolution.
The positive side of goal setting is it gives you a sense of direction. But what is the flip side? The Yale study of Goals is cited by Brian Tracey and also renowned magazines like Psychological Foundations of success. The 1953 batch of graduates were asked about their goals for the future. Only 3% of the graduates had a clear set of well-written goals.It was like getting a specific salary, a designation, a big villa etc.
It seems 10 years down the line the researchers observed that 3% who had a clear focus had amassed more wealth than the 97% who had no clear goals. This study was often cited by management gurus like Brian Tracey, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins on which they make millions of dollars with their motivational seminars. The self-help industry has been thriving on Goal Setting for so many years.
A journalist from Fast Company, a technology magazine tried to trace the origins of the Yale Study of Goals and he realized no academic journal was ever cited for the Yale Study. When the motivational gurus were approached, Brian Tracey pointed out fingers to Zig Ziglar who in turn pointed to Tony Robbins who again referred to Brian Tracey. ( ref: If Your Goal Is a success Don’t Consult These Gurus: fast Company 18 December 2007)
Oliver Burkeman in his book The Antidote – happiness for People who Don’t Stand Positive Thinking called on Beverley Waters the archivist at the Yale school who said that such study was never carried out.
Goal Setting as a concept was introduced by Gary Latham & Edwin A Locke who between them have written 20 books on the motivational aspects of life.
One of side-effects of Goal setting, particularly in corporate settings is managers tend to lie about their achievements. I remember while working for my previous company, my Divisional Manager whose initials were PR said during the annual Sales Conference: In the next five years we are going to be a Rs 100 core company. We had barely touched Rs 2 crores in 1987 then. Within 6 months PR had put in his papers and moved to greener pastures.
Two years later another Sr.Manager called NV made inflated invoicing where the goods were shipped from the Mysore factory but were never despatched to the dealers. But the order booking was shown so as to meet the targets. He barely escaped getting sacked. ( Company A).
Another person, a Sr. manager AGI used to narrate how on 31st March vendors used to supply empty boxes ( in place of Complete instruments) to the customers carry out the invoicing then recall the boxes for repairs and then supply the products. ( Company B)
Both the companies have closed down their operations by 1995. Most of them attended seminars on Goal Setting particularly the SMART ones.