SMART goals

Most managers are familiar with setting goals or objectives for their teams or departments. However, there remains a lot of speculation as to why targets are needed, who needs to have targets, and ultimately how to go about forming the perfect target.

Objectives are generally a list of one or more statements, each statement being a clear definition of what is to be achieved. There may be overall company goals, department goals, team goals, and even personal goals. Goals, especially short-term goals, provide immense clarity about the team’s immediate future and how they will be affected.

For example, an Olympic 100m runner knows her goals. If the speedster ran without purpose or goals, she would have exhausted herself mentally. By knowing the goal of the 100m race, she is able to maintain the necessary pace and concentration.

Some examples closer to home. An R&D wing may focus on a higher degree of purity of your product or better tensile strength. A sales team may focus on better sales numbers or higher market share. An HR department may focus on improving employee satisfaction or reducing attrition rates. A maintenance team can define a higher degree of machine uptime or service availability. Customer relationship representatives can aspire to higher levels of Customer satisfaction.

Every team that strives to achieve clear, stated team goals leads to overall improvement in the company, in small ways, but clear forward momentum has been established. Managers no longer have to rely on vague notions of good work. The performance of a team is clear and is measured by verifying whether the objectives are achieved.

A company would do well to have all teams and levels to define goals for themselves and make sure they complement each other. Why is it necessary to have the whole company in it? Consider that the Sales Manager has set sales targets for 2005, and the Product Development Manager has not set out to launch the product in early 2005. The Product Development Manager’s lack of target will affect the Product Managers’ targets. Sales.

How do the goals benefit team members? The best boost a team can have is “knowing” that it achieved its goal. I said it earlier in the case of the 100m sprinter. For this drive to happen, it is important for the manager to clearly communicate the goals to team members at the appropriate time. For example, if the target is for the year 2005, the manager should have communicated it to the team in early 2005.

It is important that the manager periodically communicate to the members the progress of the objective. For example, a sales manager must communicate the achievement of the annual sales figure to her team, at least monthly.

And finally, the manager must tell the team whether or not the goal was achieved at the end of the time period. If it wasn’t achieved, a good manager would know about it before the actual end of the time period. Corrective actions and preventive actions would be taken.

Suppose the manager realizes in the medium term that the goal is difficult to achieve. He can change the sales strategy if the strategy fails. She can change staff if necessary. Maybe the sales brochures were inadequate.

In some cases, sales may be running late due to reasons beyond the control of sales managers. For example, the product has some problems. It will then notify the product development department, who will initiate corrective actions. In this case, the goals set by the sales department helped drive corrective action and ultimately helped the company salvage its sales figures.

Managers should involve team members in setting process goals. Team members may have the basic knowledge to know if a goal is actually achievable or not.

How to formulate objectives? Ideally, goals should be SMART, with 5 characteristics



A – Achievable

R – Realistic

time limit T


The objective must be specific and not vague. For example, a “99% network uptime” goal makes it more specific to a network maintenance team than a “high network uptime.” A receptionist may have the goal of “Catch calls before the third ring”.


It should be possible to measure achievement. This is the area where managers get confused. A goal of “Achieve the highest possible speed” for a car is not measurable, “Achieve 250 miles per hour” is measurable. It follows that if a goal is set, there has to be a method to collect data and demonstrate that the goal has been achieved.

A – Achievable

Always set goals higher than what has been achieved, but not so high that they can never be achieved. That’s why 99% uptime is more feasible than 100%. But an error rate of 0.5% is more feasible than one of 0%. Therefore, setting achievable goals improves confidence in a team than an unattainable one. The closer you get to a near perfect score, the harder it gets. It can be very difficult to go from a tolerance limit of 99.2% to a figure of 99.7%.

R – Relevant

The goal should be relevant to the team or department you are training for. For example, can a maintenance team achieve 99% customer satisfaction? No. They can probably keep the network active. But by doing so, they are helping the product design team achieve customer satisfaction. The maintenance wing would be better off having a relevant goal for their team like “99% uptime.”

time limit T

Managers must set goals that are limited in time. A sales manager may set a goal that says “Annual sales figure of 30,000 washing machines.” The “Annual” part does so with a time limit. Otherwise, the team would not know when it has to achieve the objective.

Here are some sample goals – For a teacher: “90% passing grades for annual batches” – For a bus driver: “99% scheduled on-time stops every month.” For a CEO: “50% market share by 2006.” To a product development manager: “Reduce customer maintenance requests by 50% by the end of 2006.”