Updated: Dec 5, 2022
All good performance starts with clear, achievable and measurable goals. People need to know what is expected of them. This is fundamental to the process of managing others well.
I have run countless goal setting workshops with everyone smiling and nodding because they understand this basic principle – yet when we look at the goals they are working with, it is clear the principles of goal setting have not been applied.
The key to setting a goal is to ensure that it is SMART. I know we know this…
Specific – What do you want someone to do? Simply saying things like ‘Just get it done’ is not a specific task!
Measurable – How will you know the task is progressing and how will you know the task is done to standard? How often will you review progress? What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
Agreed – Do they understand what is being asked and have they agreed that what you are asking is something they can achieve?
Realistic – Is the person properly equipped or empowered to do the task? Is the task doable relative to timeframes, resources available and skills needed? Are you giving someone a task you know they will fail at?
Timed – When should this task be completed? What’s the deadline? Is it a short-term or long-term task?
There are some other variations to the SMART acronym adding 'ER' and making SMART... SMARTer. 'E' can mean 'evaluated' which is a part of the 'measurable' set of actions in ensuring that tasks have delivered the desired outcomes. For example, showing someone how to use a piece of software will need to be evaluated to determine if the learner can then use the software.
The 'E' can also mean 'ethical'.
The additional 'R' can mean 'relevant'. Is what's being asked worthwhile, purposeful and meaningful or is it just busyness?
Proper goal setting takes a little more time than simply barking orders at someone, but if work is to be productive and if workers are to be motivated - take the time to do it properly. Meet with employees, make sure they are actively involved in the process of setting goals and targets so that they can take ownership of the tasks and take pride in their work.