Setting Consecutive Difficult Goals Has a Dark Side

Consecutive high-performance goals deplete employees’ cognitive resources and tend to exacerbate unethical behavior over time, say David T. Welsh of the University of Washington and Lisa D. Ordóñez of the University of Arizona. For example, research participants who were given the most difficult goals in a series of arithmetic tasks cheated 84% more than the average. Although tough goals can increase performance, managers should be aware that consecutive difficult goals may generate negative consequences for organizations, the researchers say.

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