In difficult times we see a lot of advice about what to do, and a lot of that involves setting goals to do whatever it is the author is advising. While goals can be inspiring and useful for managing the tactical day-to-day, they have a dark side too. A dark side we spend too little time talking about.
As crafters of even the most successful and sophisticated sales compensation plans can attest, even the most carefully thought out goals carry hidden imbalances and unintended consequences. Or as the authors of Goals Gone Wild, a recently-published Harvard Working Paper, put it, common dark side effects include, “a narrow focus that neglects non-goal areas, a rise in unethical behavior, distorted risk preferences, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation.”
Like anything that gets out of balance, it’s common sense. Hammers work well on nails, but they’re not so great with screws, glue and more, and not everything can be fixed with nail. Implement with caution.