Targets are important. They can motivate, and ensure you are making enough progress.
They can also be counter productive. An easy target encourages us to slack off once it is met. A target that seems impossible makes most people wonder why they should bother.
Some targets don’t have the desired impact on behaviour. When baggage handlers were set a target for the time between the plane landing & the first bag hitting the conveyor belt, the statistics were good, but the wait in the baggage hall didn’t change much. When the plane landed, one chap would rush to put a bag on the belt, then return to finish the card game with his mates. The team met the target, without much change to their working practice.
Management theory urges us to set SMART objectives, which are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, & Time-related. Most of us have access to many measures of our performance.
This post talks about the impact of statistics on performance.
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