(Last Updated On: March 26, 2018)

SMART goals are one of the best way to set, organize and achieve personal goals. Since the concept was first introduced in the early 1980s, it’s been imprinted into the brains of North Americans through schools, books and workshops. For those that need a refresher, SMART is an acronym for the qualities that goals should have. They should be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Using each category as criteria and as a guideline, broad goals can be outlined with detail and smaller targets can be set to reach the endpoint. SMART goals have proven very effective for educational, personal, and financial planning when used properly. Anyone with targets to reach should try the method, however, its use isn’t limited to individuals and small groups. Businesses and organizations can also benefit from the outstanding power and structure that SMART goals provide. Sales targets, projects, productivity, and quotas can be empowered using the 5-step outline. SMART can be used by all levels of employees and managers and offers a great way to maximize, track, manage, and review the targets that businesses set for their employees or for the overall company. Here’s how SMART goals can apply to the workplace and improve productivity.

S is for Specific

Without a specific desired outcome, it becomes difficult for businesses to set a goal and actively work towards it. The point of setting goals is to reach something at the end, not just to work for the sake of work. To set specific goals, organizations should agree on what is desired of a task, or what can be gained by having a continuous objective. Goals that seem general or broad to some of the workforce will limit their motivation to achieve, and therefore will be less effective.

For example, ABC Inc. realizes that employee retention and job satisfaction rates are dropping, and decide to make an effort to improve quality of their employment experience. Instead of aiming for “higher workplace morale”, a specific target would be to “grant employees more freedom to choose what they do in the workplace”. This allows ideas to come more quickly and will improve the speed at which goals are achieved.

M is for Measurable

Objective goals are the best way to measure, track, and analyze an overall goal. Using smaller “stepping stones” along the way, it can be simple and less intimidating to reach the overall milestone. Targets that can be measured on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis will provide a precise guideline for all stakeholders involved in reaching the big goal.

Measurable goals have small targets for growth that are reached in short fragments of time, ABC Inc. could make their goal measurable with short-term steps like: “in the first month, employees should be allowed to choose what times to come into work” with more stepping stones that increase each month.

A is for Achievable

Once the quantitative aspects of a goal have been laid out, it should be considered whether or not a business can use their resources efficiently enough to achieve the desired rate of success. It is important not to overestimate in this area because too much effort into an unachievable goal can be bad for productivity.

ABC Inc. could make their goal achievable by acknowledging the restrictions on employee freedom. Certain boring or repetitive, but necessary tasks may be left out in favour of more “morale-boosting” projects, but neglecting the tedious work can falter an organization’s success. To measure how achievable a target is, organizations should take into account how achieving this goal could affect other parts of operations in a negative way.

R is for Reasonable

The fourth stage of the SMART process is another where it is essential to accurately judge the capability of a business or department. Big, broad goals are great for marketing and for huge risk-taking companies, but the majority of businesses should be logical about the size of their goals relative to the timeframe given. A big, seemingly impossible target renders the concept of SMART ineffective. Improvement is the idea of goal-setting, not necessarily perfection.

ABC in. could make it their goal to pay every employee a 6-figure salary with unlimited vacation time and full coverage benefits, allow complete control over how much work is done, and leave the company’s fate in the hands of all employees. It would certainly increase morale, however,0 their efforts must be reasonable. such a tactic would likely mean the company wouldn’t be around much longer. Something like “the ability to come to work with a smile each day, have room for creativity and control over what they do, and have strong relationships with co-workers and clients” is a much more reasonable goal.

T is for Timely

It’s nearly impossible to spark motivation across an entire organization without setting some sort of timeframe or deadline. Each goal must have a broad timeframe, broken up into smaller stepping stones along the way. If the goal is ongoing, then certain deadlines for small aspects of achievement should still be set.

ABC inc.’s low morality is an immediate issue that shouldn’t have a deadline far in the future. To make the issue timely, they should make a measurable target in the next 6 months to increase employee retention by 50%, with a monthly increase of 7% to track their progress.

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