TEAM GOALS AFFECT PERFORMANCE DEPENDING UPON HOW THE GROUP IS PERFORMING
Forward, J., & Zander, A. (1971). Choice of unattainable group goals and effects on performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 6, 184-199.
This study investigated the relative effects of three factors upon the choice of group aspiration:
- success or failure of a member's own group;
- prior success or failure of a larger organization unit to which the group belongs; and
- the strength of external pressures toward unreasonably high goals brought to bear on a group which is responsible to a larger organization.
- Members of high-success teams with low need and facing weak opponents/pressures selected group aspirations in line with the mean amount of performance improvement, that is, they make accurate performance estimates.
- Members of low success teams with high need and facing strong pressures selected group goals greatly in excess of their mean performance improvement, that is, they overestimate their performance capabilities.
- Members of success groups rated their performances higher than members of failing groups.
- Members of success groups rated their own individual performance better and accepted more responsibility for the team score than members of failing groups.
- Members of success groups attached greater importance to the necessity of setting official team goals than did members of failing groups.
- Successful teams performed better than failing teams, and low need teams performed better than high need teams.
- Setting unattainable goals not only ensured nominal failure to achieve goals but also has a detrimental effect on actual performance, that is, the team was "self-defeated" before the contest began.
Implications. Four actions are important for keeping any team's goal-orientations in the correct perspective.
- Teams should set realistic attainable goals irrespective of the caliber of the competition or the success need of the contest.
- Team goals should be evaluated and restructured periodically. When conditions change constantly, such as when playing different opponents on a weekly basis, the goals should be independently structured for each new challenge.
- Teams perform better when they face weak external pressures (e.g., from the press, the school, team owners). Goals should only originate from and be relevant to the team members.
- Each team member should have his/her own personal goals as well as team goals. This will provide a rich multi-incentive condition.
- Team goals should be set in a group-setting with everyone perceiving a valuable contribution to the process.
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