Introduction to S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Goals are a simple way to ensure individuals are aligned with the company’s objectives. More crucially, clear goals are shown to motivate employees. Engaged employees drive customer satisfaction and stay longer at the company, driving long-term success.

The SMART goal framework first emerged in the 1980s. The criteria help managers and employees align on goals and communicate expectations clearly. Once SMART goals are defined, performance management conversations are more effective, because both parties know how to evaluate performance.


Just like New Year’s resolutions, goals can be initially motivating, and then interest dies off only a few days later. To drive commitment, clearly define your goals. They should be narrow enough that anyone can visualize what it means to reach the goal. A vague goal might be to become more punctual, while a specific goal would be that you’ll come to the office by 10 a.m. each day.


A powerful goal-setting process needs clear follow-up. There should be a quantifiable factor to all goals. Of course, in a field such as sales, choosing a metric is easy. But even in goals related to soft skills, it is important to find a KPI in order to track and monitor progress.


Whether you’re setting goals for yourself or for a report, make sure goals are realistic. A reach goal can certainly be inspiring, but employees will lose motivation if there are not frequent opportunities to celebrate wins. That sense of accomplishment is important for new motivation going forward.


Setting goals that drive the organization forward are important to the company overall, but also play into the employee’s motivation. Especially in challenging moments, employees will be asking themselves, “Why?” Ensure individual goals align with overall objectives. Prioritize goals by how impactful they are.


Along with being quantifiable, goals need also to be set on a schedule. Quarterly goals should be broken down into smaller chunks with due dates. These due dates should also be attainable. There should be space for changes and flexibility based on outside factors.

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