- SMART goals are a clearly defined methodology that makes setting goals easy to track and accomplish by defining parameters of success. The acronym “S.M.A.R.T” stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
- Managers can successfully use this framework to empower employees, promote accountability, and increase motivation.
- Goal setting can help improve productivity in many ways. Most notably, they provide direction, amplify performance and maintain focus on completing tasks.
Have you ever heard of the statistic that somewhere around 97% of all New Year's resolutions fail by the 15th of January? In other words, these people are hopeful to change, or become better somehow - but realistically lack the commitment to stick with it even for a month!
Perhaps the reason that these goals never come to fruition is because they’re too vague and unspecific. A goal like “save money” this coming year is quite well intentioned, but offers no guidance on steps to take to achieve the goal, or even to specifically define what constitutes as money saved to that person.
Particularly for managers, it’s imperative that their team set goals that actually promote achievability and success. Teams that follow SMART methodology aim to produce results and use all the available resources at hand to ensure goal commitment and completion.
What Are SMART Goals?
If you’re a first time manager, it’s likely you’ve heard talk about “S.M.A.R.T” goals but are unsure of how to execute them. SMART goals are a clearly defined methodology that makes setting goals easier to track and accomplish by breaking them down into smaller subsections that strive towards a larger objective.
For employees - the framework for creating SMART goals was designed to foster a clear understanding of what constitutes expected levels of performance and success in their role. After all, a goal properly set is halfway reached.
SMART Goal Methodology
S - Specific
Clearly define what you are trying to achieve. Make it as direct and to the point as possible. To make a goal specific, think about the who, what, where, when, and why? Treat this almost like a mission statement for your goal.
M - Measurable
To ensure clarity for every action taken, define what criteria needs to be completed so it’s easy to understand once it’s been achieved. What are your indicators of progress?
A - Achievable
A SMART goal must always be achievable, but more importantly so - challenging. Ask your team, is this goal attainable based on factors already in place? What changes can be made to ensure this goal is achievable?
R - Realistic
Make sure that goals are attainable given the resources already in place. Ensure that it’s possible to complete your objective within the specified timeframe and with the resources available.
T - Time-bound
Set a definite deadline that the goal must be completed by. If a goal is not time constrained, there's no sense of urgency, and ultimately less motivation to get it done.
How do SMART Goals Differ From Regular Goals?
Drawing from the New Years example, a goal as ambiguous as “save money” will likely not lead to any meaningful results. Specifically, SMART goals allow managers to monitor the progress of their teams by following the specific metrics that employees define themselves.
When executed properly, employee goal setting can improve commitment to the company’s objective and clarify your employees’ role - one of the biggest factors of team success.
Using Goals To Increase Productivity As A Manager
1. Provides direction for your team about company objectives
Great managers help to guide employees through the goal setting process. Each employee’s goals should be linked back to the company’s business strategy or objectives to be a truly meaningful and worthwhile goal. The feeling of contribution to organizational growth increases motivation and emphasizes their importance as part of the team.
2. Aids in team management planning
As goals are used as a method for measuring performance, they are also indicative of areas needing change when a goal isn’t accomplished. For example - if you realize that a team goal isn’t exactly achievable, you can then distinguish where improvements need to be made to achieve success next time.
3. Maintain focus on what’s important
SMART goals have the ability to guide the goal setter to focus on specific tasks, rather than jumping from one to the other. When employees’ set a goal, these steps naturally direct attention towards the next logical step - making certain that they’re always moving in the right direction.
4. Improve time management
The beauty about this goal framework is that it clarifies the steps necessary to completing the objective. For managers, it’s a great idea to have a software or a system in place that allows you to chart employees’ progress and timeline completion.
5. Completing goals sustains momentum
One of the most important benefits of goal setting in teams is the level of increased motivation one derives from accomplishing an objective. Checking that goal as completed from a task list can be highly rewarding and further increases incentive to continue performing optimally. Goals have the unique advantage of energizing people to not stop until they see it’s completion.
Although it may be intimidating introducing the SMART framework to your team, the benefits that are derived from this methodology exceed expectations. Simply by modifying how employees set goals serves to improve individual skill sets, boost performance and encourage overall morale - making your team a winning one.
If you want to make it easier for your team to set SMART goals, simplteam offers a simple team management software that helps you and your employees set, track, and complete both personal and team goals using the smart methodology. See for yourself how easy it can be to manage your team. Try simplteam free today.