Which New Year resolution works better? “I will lose 3 pounds” or “I will lose 2-4 pounds”?
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that weight loss and improved fitness are among the top ten 10 New Year’s resolutions. The study also reports that just 8% of these New Year’s resolutions succeed.
Using science to set employee goals
What type of goals should you set for employees – both as a team and as individuals?
In our daily lives, we set goals for well-being – read more books, lose weight, eat more vegetables.
At work, setting goals is a staple of work life. We communicate our goals to superiors and peers and take the time to set goals for employees.
When thinking of goals, we tend to focus on the one number: the number of pounds we want to lose, the number of calls a sales rep should make, the number of training courses an employee should complete. But focusing on one number can be wrong.
Recent research shows that people are more likely to reengage (i.e. decide to continue pursuing a goal over a period of time) if the goal is a range and not a single number.
Researchers tried to answer the question “would a consumer be more likely to reengage a goal of losing weight if this consumer were to set a goal of either a weekly single number goal or a weekly goal that would fall into a range of outcomes?” It compared high-low range goals and single number goals.
Goal setting should inspire accomplishment and flow
How we set goals influences our behavior; this is driven by feelings of accomplishment.
Research on accomplishment shows that the sense of accomplishment is achieved by the perceived attainability of the goal and the perceived challenge of the goal. High-low goals influence perceived attainability and challenge of the goal and thus the feelings of accomplishment and interest in goal re-engagement.
High low range goals provide two single salient reference points vs just one reference point for the single number goal. The low range is what is attainable and the high range is what is challenging.
The single number goal is “all or nothing”. And that is the problem. If the goal is easily attainable then it is discouraging or too easy. The high-low range creates the challenge – to achieve the higher goal – and leaves us in a state of challenge. On the other hand, it doesn’t discourage us if we cannot make the higher end.
This is very similar to the concept of flow – which is a state known to be associated with engagement and performance. Flow is the place where there is a balance between the skill level and the task. It does not occur when the challenge is too easy or too difficult. Difficult tasks cause anxiety. Too easy tasks cause boredom.
When the task (or goal) is just right, a state of heightened focus and immersion occurs: flow.
Remember goal science in your next enterprise gamification project
Goals play an important role in enterprise gamification. Sample sales gamification goals are to make more outbound calls, complete CRM reporting on time, close more deals. Customer service gamification goals can be to reduce average handling time (AHT) or increase first call resolution (FCR). Set high-low goals that create a sense of achievement and that can result in flow.
And next year, don’t promise to lose 3 pounds. Set a goal of 2-4 pounds.