Goal setting improves motivation

Motivate goals

In motivational psychology, the goal has a central position, because goals can motivate. Goals give direction to action. Goals support the distinction between the important and the unimportant and direct the energy towards the desired priorities.


People give direction to their actions by setting goals and, according to the findings of motivational psychology, they are happier and more successful in their lives. It becomes interesting when the failure to achieve, partially meet or exceed goals has an impact on the level of the salary. Since this payment, in contrast to the basic salary, is not firmly promised, the variable salary is assigned the highest motivational effect. How high the incentive effect of variable salary aspects really is is, however, controversial.

Opinions differ considerably here: bonuses as a performance incentive - the same as the carrot that the horse gets held in front of its rider with a rod, criticizes HR expert and author Reinhard Sprenger. The bonus is nothing more than a "no confidence discount" based on the suspicion of the entrepreneur: "If I do not have the opportunity to withhold money from you, you will not work fully." This principle certainly does not have a motivating effect on employees, Sprenger believes. However, this approach ignores the fact that a company may only be able to pay a bonus if the economic situation makes it possible in the first place. And of course the company must be allowed to differentiate between good and bad performance.

However, scientists confirm that the prospect of a bonus does not motivate every employee additionally. Internally ("intrinsically") motivated employees, for whom the joy of the job is in the foreground, cannot always be additionally motivated by bonuses. The intrinsic motivation can even be undermined by a bonus, says Bruno Frey, Professor of Economics at the University of Zurich in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The reward suppresses meaning - psychologists speak of the "repression effect".