Goal planning sounds easy – you decide you want to do something and you go do it, right? While that’s the basic concept, many people fall into the trap of making their goals overly vague. One way to evaluate whether a goal is well defined is to use the SMART acronym test. A SMART goal has the following characteristics:
A specific goal is one that is clearly defined. It’s the difference between wanting to lose weight and setting a goal to lose 12 pounds in 3 months. A specific goal makes it clear whether it’s been achieved or not. This is important in performance management because both the manager and the team member agree on what the goal is, and when it has been achieved.
A measurable goal is one that has a defined output that you can count. In the weight loss example, both the weight and the time are measurable. That means you can have milestones along the way, and that you can see progress towards the goal.
Every goal should be possible to achieve, or else why set it in the first place? In our weight loss example, 12 pounds in 3 months is an achievable goal. 12 pounds in one month or 12 pounds in a week would require you to do unhealthy things to achieve it. The same is true with business goals.
Good goals have a purpose – they are relevant to the person or the organization. Losing 12 pounds is only relevant to a person who is overweight in the first place.
A timely goal is one with a clearly defined end date. By agreeing at the outset over what span of time a goal will be completed, you make it more likely that the goal will be achieved.
SMART goal planning is a great tool to help motivate and measure the performance of your team.
Have a goal setting or performance management question? Feel free to ask it here and one of our experts will reach out to see how we can help. And don’t forget to check out our performance management eLearning series to give your emerging leaders the tools they need to succeed!