Goal setting for groups is part of the planning process in which strategies are developed to achieve specific organizational goals. Goal setting can occur at three basic management levels: top, middle, and line. Top managers are charged with setting long-term goals that define the overall objectives and missions of the organization. Middle managers carry out the goals of their superiors and, in doing so, set goals that direct the groups and individuals whom they lead—an example of a middle manager's goal might be to achieve a 14 percent increase in sales within 12 months. Finally, line managers strive to accomplish the goals of middle managers. To do so, they, in turn, create goals that address the day to-day needs of the operation—a line manager may set a goal of reorganizing a stock room.
There are still some limitations to motivation and goal-setting theory, Latham and Locke admit. For example, they say that the goals of the organization are not always the same as the goals of the individual. Perhaps the company's goal is to get workers trained in new safety protocols. However, the manager's bonus depends upon the company's financial performance, not the employee's grasping of the safety procedures. Therefore, the manager may not be motivated to take employees away from their tasks to complete the training. Another limitation is that learning goals do not always foster interest, and interest goals do not always facilitate learning. There also is the problem that individuals are more tempted to take risky actions in pursuit of their goals, which could potentially lead to failure rather than success.