What are SMART goals?

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The acronym "SMART" can be used as a guide for creating and setting effective and useful employee goals and objectives. It tells us the characteristics of good goals and objectives that will be useful for managers and employees.

Here's what each letter stands for as described by Roman Koch:

Specific means that the target is clearly defined. "Server availability greater than 99.5%" is not specific. "Availability of productive intranet servers greater than 99.5%" clearly defines the target.

Measurable means that the target state is defined as a number. "Can do presentations in French" is not measurable. "Runs two presentations in French for an IT audience of more than 20 people" is measurable.

Appropriate means that the staff member can take the necessary actions to meet the objective. "Zero stolen PCs" is not an appropriate objective for a PC asset manager, as he or she cannot control all the thieves of this world. "Users are informed twice a year about measures to avoid thefts" is appropriate.

Realistic means that the staff member has a fair chance to achieve the desired result. "Is on time every day" is not realistic, as it's highly unlikely. "Is on time on 19 out of 20 working days" is realistic.

Time-bound means that the target state is described with a time dimension. "Runs a Visual Basic workshop for the team" is not time-bound. "Runs a one-hour Visual Basic workshop for the team with not more than 1 week of preparation" is time-bound. Note that deadlines are just one way of time-binding an objective (and, very often, the most stupid way for doing so). Periods ("every three months") or durations ("45 minutes for each repair") often are more appropriate.

For more help on setting goals, objectives and standards get your free preview of Performance Planning For Managers


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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992 by consultant and book author, Robert Bacal. Robert's books on performance management and reviews have been published by McGraw-Hill. He is available for consultation, training and keynote speaking on performance and management at work.


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