HR Science Forum
The effect of primed goals on employee performance: Implications for human resource management
Version of Record online: 29 MAR 2011
© 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Human Resource Management
Volume 50, Issue 2, pages 289–299, March/April 2011
How to Cite
Shantz, A. and Latham, G. (2011), The effect of primed goals on employee performance: Implications for human resource management. Hum. Resour. Manage., 50: 289–299. doi: 10.1002/hrm.20418
- Issue online: 29 MAR 2011
- Version of Record online: 29 MAR 2011
- goal setting;
- job performance
Overwhelming evidence in the behavioral sciences shows that consciously set goals can increase an employee's performance. Thus, HR professionals have had little, if any, reason to be interested in subconscious processes. In the past decade, however, laboratory experiments by social psychologists have shown that goals can be primed. That is, people's behavior is affected by goals of which they are unaware. Because a conscious goal consumes cognitive resources, this finding has important implications for employee efficiency in the workplace. This paper discusses the results of priming a performance goal in two organizational settings. Call center employees who were primed using a photograph of a woman winning a race raised significantly more money from donors than those who were randomly assigned to a control group. A meta-analysis revealed that a photograph can prime the subconscious to increase job performance. The results of the present study demonstrate that subconscious motivation is a concept worthy of exploration for both human resource scholars and practitioners. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.