Smart Goals – What They Mean And How To Set Them

If you run a business, your workforce is one of your most important resources. You need to be able to motivate people, and ensure that they know what is expected of them. Doing so means that you can make sure they perform to their full potential, which benefits the business. There are many motivational tools you can use, including conferences with keynote speakers present, staff bonuses and staff suggestion schemes.

One important motivational tool that can be overlooked is making sure that people know exactly what you expect them to do. This is not just about the job itself, but also quality and output targets, as well as areas such as customer service. This is where Smart goals are so useful. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.


Telling one of your employers that you expect them to do a good job, is of no benefit to them or the business. There is no definition of what a good job actually is. When you are setting goals for someone you should make sure that each one addresses a specific area of their role. It may be that you want them to conduct five customer surveys, or check thirty databases for errors. Each employee should have a job description that they work to; take this into account when you are setting goals.


If you are going to judge how someone has performed against a goal, you need to be able to measure success. For instance, stating that someone needs to ensure customers are satisfied is not a measurable goal. Stating that someone needs to have a 75% positive rating in weekly customer feedback surveys is measurable, so you can see whether someone is achieving the goal or not.


Setting unrealistic goals can have a serious demotivating effect. Yes, goals need to be stretching, which is often also include as a further S in the SSMART acronym, but it also needs to be possible to achieve them. Many businesses use different goals for people during a probationary period. They are new to the job and unlikely to be performing at the same rate as more experienced colleagues.


Relevancy is important when you are setting goals. You should never just use generic goals across different disciplines, as they are unlikely to relate closely enough to different aspects of the role. For instance, giving a general clerical team a goal that fits with work carried out by the customer service team will only result in confusion. It’s also impossible to carry out performance management tasks relating to an individual if they are not being measured solely against the expectations of their own role.


Each goal that you set should have a time element to it. For instance, you may want to state how many sales should be made each day, or how many products should be produced in one week. You need to have this element so that the goal can be measured on an ongoing basis. Someone may perform well for three weeks, then very badly for the next four. How do you measure this if all you say is that they should secure sales from 60% of calls that they make?

Hopefully, you can see why Smart goals are important, and how to set them. If you set these goals in the right way, they can help you to get the best from your employees.