One of the most popular goal-setting systems in business management is the SMART goal framework. It has been proven effective over decades of use when used properly and with the right incentives for employees and leaders. Setting smarter goals for yourself and your employees is a great way to ensure that the corporation continues to move forward towards its intended mission and future vision. There are multiple theories on goal systems and a number of goal frameworks that have proven effective yet the SMART goal system has survived. This article will outline the SMART goal framework and its updates.
What is SMART?
The SMART acronym was developed by George Doran in an article written for the Management Review in 1981. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goal criteria. More recent updates have added evaluation and re-evaluation, making the system SMARTER. Any business leader can understand the true values in goals are creating tasks that push the business forward by providing a sense of accomplishment for employees and who can evaluate their own performance. This goal-setting framework enhances the broad overall vision by creating very specific and targeted initiatives.
The Parts of the Sum
By creating specific goals such as “attaining 10 new customers this quarter” or “achieving a 10% increase in customer satisfaction” provides a means to the end vision. These specific goals allow employees to focus their energies on a measurable task with an achievable result. Far too often businesses set goals for employees that are so far out of reach or that employees cannot connect to, nor evaluate. Therefore they do not stretch or strive to reach the established goals. By setting goals too far out of reach for yourself it will simply set up the possibility of failure that can drain morale and energy from the company.
This goals framework carves up the futuristic goal set out in the vision of the company into smaller and manageable pieces for both leaders and employees to do. In this vein, this framework focuses goals and tasks around relevant activities to achieve the desired end result. It helps keep the team focused on the vision of the company without getting sidetracked by short-term problems. By establishing time-bound goals, the framework also provides a sense of urgency to accomplish goals on a path of ever-increasing results.
The strength of this goal framework is providing a consistent and achievable result that can also be evaluated. The weakness of the system is providing a consistent and achievable result; meaning that employees are never encouraged to stretch beyond their natural talents, to learn new skills and truly achieve success beyond set goals. Learning to set goals that both cater to your employee’s strengths yet also pushes them into new territory and beyond their current limits must also be achieved in any goal-setting framework. In tough economic times or in difficult situations, a company sometimes need to achieve the “almost unattainable” in order to survive. This is where the SMART or SMARTER goal system can potentially fail.
However, the goal framework provides a consistency that is needed in daily operations to propel a company forward on a known trajectory. Setting these goals for yourself as the leader of the corporation, for specific departments and even individual employees is important to provide a base level of progress especially during ‘survival mode’.