Dr Schippers said: “As managers cannot constantly drive motivation or monitor work performance, goal setting can be seen as an important self-regulatory mechanism that helps individuals, teams and organisations to prioritise tasks. It’s a key driver of business performance. Indeed, the clear and careful articulation of goals appears to be important for enhancing performance in multiple arenas.
“Goal setting can optimise performance in many domains,” she concluded.
Goal setting at bachelor level
Goal setting has already been implemented at RSM with positive results. Dr Schippers implemented an evidence-based online goal-setting programme for all first-year RSM bachelor students during the 2011-2012 academic year, to test the idea that reflecting on their goals may help to improve student retention and performance. This was combined with the first-year students taking part in RSM’s forward-thinking I WILL initiative; it asks them to make a statement of future intent, which is published with a specially taken I WILL portrait photo. I WILL has become an iconic part of the School’s identity, with hundreds of students making their I WILL statement every year. The goal-setting programme has proven to be very effective, with more than 20% increase in academic performance and retention rate. The intervention proved especially effective for male students and those from ethnic minorities.
Goal setting at master level
Dr Schippers developed an elective course, The Future of Work, which covers developments such as the role of technological developments and the role of goal setting in keeping people engaged in their work.
Goal setting at executive level
After creating an executive master class for HR professionals on goal setting and employee engagement, Dr Schippers is now working to develop an executive education programme on behaviour and performance management with a focus on goal setting. “Practitioners and experienced executives going through the complex processes of formulating professional and life goals may profit from this course,” she said.
Such a cutting-edge course will not only present new research findings as practical lessons to executives, but can also function as a collaborative platform to share in-depth cases and personal executive experiences, she explained. “The course would be an important way to connect education to practice in the field of behaviour, performance management and goal setting.”
Behaviour and performance management
Dr Schippers’ new appointment as Professor of Behaviour and Performance Management at RSM means her research attention will be focused on answering the fundamental questions of behaviour and performance management. What combination of factors influence performance? What activities ensure that individual, team and organisational goals are met effectively and efficiently? How can organisations align their resources, systems and human behaviour in order to meet strategic objectives? How is performance influenced by goal setting? How do team reflexivity and team composition influence motivation and thus performance?
About Michaéla Schippers
Michaéla Schippers is Endowed Professor of Behaviour and Performance Management at RSM. She received her PhD in 2003 from the Psychology Department at VU University in Amsterdam, after which she started work at RSM. Her specific areas of interest are personal and team goal setting as opposed to assigned goals; team functioning, specifically team reflexivity and diversity as important prerequisites to goal setting; and organisational networks and the flow of information through those networks.
Her current research focuses on team reflexivity, team diversity and team leadership, as well as the use of a goal-setting intervention to improve academic performance. Other current projects concern knowledge sharing within teams and networks, virtual teams, new ways of working, behavioural operations management, social loafing in teams (the concept of putting in less effort for tasks when working in teams), and social exclusion and inclusion.
Her work has been published in journals such as Annual Review of Psychology, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, Academy of Management Learning & Education, Journal of Organizational Behavior, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, Palgrave Communications, Small Group Research, and Human Relations.
Dr Schippers is co-founder of the Reflexivity Network and scientific director of the Erasmus Centre of Behavioural Operations Management.