Setting clear goals is essential to motivating employees and ensuring their efforts are aligned with an organisation’s overarching objectives. Since its development in 1980s management literature, SMART has been a popular framework used to structure effective personal goals. Let’s go through the criteria of SMART goals with a few examples to help you apply them to your organisation.
The goal should be clearly defined. It should be detailed enough for anyone to visualise exactly what succeeding in the goal would look like. For example, rather than broadly stating “I want to improve my work-life balance”, you might say “I want to leave the office around 17:30 each day to spend time with my family”.
To track and monitor progress, the outcome of the goal should be measurable. Quantification is your friend. Precise amounts to include in goals might be percentages or dollar amounts. If your unit is attempting to increase customer satisfaction, a measurable goal might be “improve our NPS by ten percent in this quarter”.
Make sure you are being realistic when setting goals by engaging with the people who contribute to its success. When challenging goals are met, stakeholders are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. However, at Peakon we’ve seen that instead of motivating employees to stretch themselves, obviously over-ambitious goals can actually demotivate people.
It’s important to check that achieving the goal would actually be a step in the right direction. The question to ask yourself at this stage is why you want to attain this goal and how it will fit into the bigger picture. Critique the assumptions behind your response.
You should also assess relevancy in regards to who the goal is being assigned. For example, if your customers say they’re receiving great service from your customer care team, but they’re fed-up with bugs in your product, assigning the goal I mentioned earlier of “improve our NPS by ten percent in this quarter” may be more relevant for your product team than customer care.
Hold yourself accountable for your goals by setting deadlines for milestones. Give yourself room for change and flexibility and adjust those deadlines as you start to understand what is and isn’t reasonable.
We’ve seen at Peakon that effective goal-setting can greatly influence employee engagement. Hopefully this quick introduction to SMART goals will point you in the right direction when setting goals for you and your team. When done right, you’ll quickly see the results in your employees’ productivity and happiness.