- Used wisely, goals can inspire employees and improve performance.
- But goal setting must be prescribed in doses, not as a standard remedy to increase productivity.
- When employees care exclusively about reaching a goal, and bad things can happen if they fail, cheating goes up.
- Goals are appropriate when you know exactly what behaviors you want, you aren't concerned about secondary behaviors, and unethical behavior is not a big risk.
Full working paper, "Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting" can be downloaded here.