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Setting SMART Goals For 2024

The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate and reset goals. Most businesses do this on an organizational level, and often those corporate goals are integrated into the employee performance appraisal process. Additionally, goals can be designed specific to work sites, departments, work teams, or individual employees. Many businesses allow employees to define their own personal goals as well, which often results in increased motivation to track progress and achieve those goals.

 

In designing goals, it is important to define parameters to ensure the objectives are attainable within the established time frame. S.M.A.R.T. is a mnemonic acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Based. George T. Doran originally published the SMART method for goal setting in 1981 for use in business and management. It is a framework which assists in the development of goals, with each criteria being important to achieve meaningful and detailed objectives. It has since been adapted to fit a wide range of personal and professional ambitions.

 

SPECIFIC goals have a desired outcome that is clearly understood. The goal should be articulated such that everyone is on the same page with the objective. Define what will be accomplished and what actions should be taken to achieve the goal.

 

MEASUREABLE goals require a quantifiable objective so you can actually track their progress and acheievement. Define what data will be used to measure and set a method for calcuation. This is often the most complex part of the SMART goal design, especially when little or no metrix are currently available.

 

ATTAINABLE goals must be realistic. If the goal is not actually achievable, organizations and employees will quickly lose motiviation to work towards them. If a large and comprehensive goal is the target but that is likely not realistic or achievable, try breaking it down into smaller components which would build on each other over time to produce the desired goal in the long run.

 

RELEVANT goals should be aligned with the mission of the company and what it hopes to achieve. If allowing employees to design their own goals, it is important that they are relevant to their job duties or potential future growth within the organization. For example, an employee in HR may set a goal to achieve a professional HR certification.

 

TIME BASED goals should have an established deadline or completion date. This is necessary to identify success or failure in reaching the goal. It may be necessary to adjust that date depending on various factors. That is why an annual re-evaluation of all goals is important as goals will require adjustments over time.

 

As an example of a SMART goal, let’s consider a HR Manager who is setting a goal to reduce employee turnover within her organization:

 

Specific: She sets up a multi-pronged approach to reducing staff turnover that includes learning more about why people are leaving through exit surveys, increasing leadership skills training for management, and boosting morale with an employee recognition program.


  • Measurable: The manager aims to decrease the turnover rate to 45%.

  • Achievable: Considering that her company’s current turnover rate is 55% and the average turnover rate for the industry is about 40%, she thinks this goal is achievable.

  • Relevant: A lower turnover rate can save on hiring and training costs to help the company hit its profit goals for the year.

  • Timely: The HR manager gives herself one year to meet her goal.

 

Once SMART goals are established, it is important document and communicate them clearly to all stakeholders. Regularly track progress towards established goals, being flexible to change course or redirect energy where needed to stay on track. Don’t forget the best part of the process is to celebrate achievements!


If you find that excellent progress is being made towards attaining a goal, that is cause for celebration in itself. Integrating goals with an organization’s performance managemnet process is an ideal way to ensure that the goals remain the focus throughout the year.


Setting the goal is just the first step in the process, but using the SMART method for goal setting will ensure that you are set up for success!

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