How to Set SMART Goals (+Examples, Template)

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Setting goals is an important practice in any organization. It’s an essential part of the performance management process and is used to achieve business objectives. A clearly defined set of goals visualize and actualize success, driving employee performance.

However, setting effective goals is not easy. Managers are required to understand their employees’ strengths, weaknesses, and potential while crafting goals using a strategic lens. 

Using the SMART goals method simplifies this process by providing five criteria points for creating goals. This guide will take you through the process of setting achievable and measurable objectives for your team using the SMART goals strategy.

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART goals are carefully drafted targets set by managers that employees work towards in a specific period. The SMART in SMART goals stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

Defining these parameters ensures that the objectives are attainable within a specific time frame. This approach eliminates generalities and guesswork, assigns a clear timeline, and sets employees up for success. Defining SMART goals makes it easier for managers to track the progress of their employees while completing the goals.


How To Write SMART Goals

Here are five simple steps for creating SMART goals.

1. Make your goal specific

The first step in creating SMART goals for your employees is to get specific with how you describe them. Consider it in quantifiable terms and determine what actions are needed to get there. 

A specific goal answers questions such as:

  • What needs to be accomplished?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is responsible for achieving the goal?
  • What steps need to be taken to achieve it?
  • What are the related obstacles or requirements?

2. They should be measurable

After setting your specific goal, it is time to evaluate how it will be measured. The M is a direct indicator of what success looks like for a particular goal. This step in the SMART goals process prompts you to set methods for measuring employee progress toward achieving their goals. Setting measurable goals for employees keeps them motivated, focused, and engaged.

A measurable goal addresses questions such as:

  • How will I measure my progress?
  • How do I know if my goal is achieved?

Measurement methods can be both quantitative (productivity results, money saved or earned, etc.) and qualitative (client testimonials, surveys, etc.). 

Some typical data types and data collection methods include:

  • Quality/accuracy rates 
  • Amounts produced
  • Revenue generated
  • Productivity rates
  • Customer Satisfaction

3. Make sure the goal is achievable

Attainable SMART goals consider the employee’s ability to achieve them. The more realistic and achievable the goals, the more likely employees are to keep working towards them. 

This does not mean that the goals should not be challenging. They should still stretch your employee’s abilities but remain possible. If a set of goals are unrealistic and unobtainable, employees feel defeated and lose motivation towards finding that extra push that would help them achieve more manageable goals.

An achievable goal addresses questions such as:

  • Will it be clear when the goal is complete?
  • Is it reasonable to complete the goal in the allotted time?

4. Create relevant goals

SMART goals that are “relevant” relate to your company’s overall business objectives as well as to a skill or professional development strategy that you want your employees to improve.

A relevant goal answers “yes” to questions such as:

  • Does it align with the overall organizational goal?
  • Does it relate to the employee’s development goals?
  • Will it help the employee succeed in their job?
  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time for this goal?
  • Does this match the other responsibilities of the employee?

5. Create a time-bound schedule

Time-bound refers to the timeline set for employees to work towards the goal and how long it will take for them to meet the set milestones and achieve final results. 

Consider if your goal is short-term or long-term, and determine a timeline accordingly. Attaching attainable deadlines to SMART goals puts a healthy dose of pressure on your team to accomplish them and make significant progress in the long run. Additionally, a time-bound schedule prevents everyday tasks from taking priority over the employee’s longer-term goals.

Free SMART Goals Template

To help you create effective goals for your team, we’ve created free SMART goals template.

Get a customizable copy of SMART Goals template now!

✓ Thank you, the template will be sent to your email

Examples of SMART Goals

To show how to put the SMART goals framework in action, we’ve included some detailed examples below. 

1. Improve customer satisfaction

  • Specific: Five members from the customer success team will work on increasing customer satisfaction (CSAT) and average review ratings by implementing client surveys.
  • Measurable: 
    • Increase customer satisfaction score from 70% to 90%
    • Each employee gets at least 1 positive customer review on G2.
  • Attainable: Last quarter 3 customer reviews were published on G2.
  • Relevant: Achieving customer satisfaction goal offers a whole host of benefits from improving customer retention and loyalty to creating customer advocates.
  • Time-Bound: End of Q2.

SMART Goal Example: By the end of Q2, 5 employees will work on increasing the CSAT score from 70% to 90% and getting 5 positive customer reviews on G2 by implementing short surveys and resolving any negative issues they have with our service.

2. CRM training goals

A small sales company rolled out a new CRM platform for its sales reps to drive sales productivity and eliminate manual tasks. To get the maximum return on their investment, the company schedules instructor-led CRM training for sales reps to teach them how to use the platform to its full potential. 

  • Specific: A group of ten sales reps undergo instructor-led CRM training to learn how to create opportunities in CRM.
  • Measurable: n hours saved per day by every sales rep post the use of CRM software.
  • Achievable/Attainable/Agreed-upon: Discussing and re-assessing training with previous participants brought us to the conclusion of setting up an instructor-led training for a smaller group of people at a time.
  • Relevant: CRM training will help our sales reps to use the tool to its full potential thereby giving us the maximum ROI.
  • Time-bound: 30 days training session.

SMART Goal Example: A group of 10 sales reps undergo instructor-led CRM training for 30 days to learn how to create opportunities in CRM and start migrating from spreadsheets to the new CRM in order to use the software to its full potential and provide the maximum ROI.

3. Personal SMART goals for employees to improve performance

  • Specific: Improving my skills to learn how to use Microsoft Excel efficiently and practice using it by implementing all important formulas.
  • Measurable: By the time of my next review, I should be able to apply VLOOKUP, IF AND, and LEFT, MID, and RIGHT formulas, create charts, and create pivot tables in excel.
  • Achievable: Improving my excel skills is instrumental in moving forward in my career and receiving a better performance review. I can enroll for an online course and set one hour aside every week to watch tutorials.
  • Relevant: Working with excel is currently 25% of my job. As I move up in the company, I’ll need to spend 50% of my time managing data in excel.
  • Time-Bound: In six months, I should be proficient in PowerPoint ensuring it only occupies 25% of my workload instead of the nearly 40% of the time it occupies now.

SMART Goal Example: Improving my excel skills in the next 6 months through online classes every week to become proficient and ensure that it only occupies 25% of my workload in the future.
Create personalized learning & training flows for your enterprise apps with Whatfix

Benefits of SMART Goal Setting

Here are a few benefits of setting SMART goals for your employees.

1. Provides clarity and focus

SMART goals provide the clarity and focus for employees to get the most out of their efforts. Goal setting omits the possibility of overlooking any major or minor details that can hinder their efforts towards achieving goals. With more knowledge of what has to be done, employees are focused on their responsibilities and know where their attention is required.

2. Better Employee Performance & Productivity

The most crucial goal of any training program is to improve your employees’ performance and productivity by reinforcing existing competencies and developing new skills. SMART goals provide a method to gauge an employee’s performance and success by setting benchmarks to meet.

3. Motivates employees

Setting SMART goals gives employees the direction to work towards, keeps them engaged, contributes to increased optimism in the workplace, and encourages better employee performance.

4. Employee development

To stay relevant in an increasingly competitive job market, employees need to excel in their roles and stay updated with the latest skills. However, in the absence of clear goal setting, employees may struggle to feel motivated and confident in their development journey. Contextual employee development plans aided by SMART training objectives help create a development progression path for your employees.

6 Tips for Setting Effective SMART Goals

Here are a few tips to set effective SMART goals for your employees.

1. Break the goal down into subtasks

To create easy and understandable SMART goals, break down difficult and complex goals into small and simplified steps.

2. Track progress

To maintain success throughout the year, managers must track the progress of SMART goals set for their employees by conducting regular check-ins.

3. Use simple language

When creating SMART goals, use simple language, keep them to the point, and avoid unnecessary details. A suggested format includes:

  • a time frame
  • a target audience
  • an action verb to describe the outcome
  • any other relevant information

4. Analyze your training conditions

When creating SMART goals for employee training programs, consider different parameters such as availability of an instructor, budget, type of workforce, and pre-requisites that affect the design and delivery of the program. Further, you also need to identify the challenges to your employee’s learning. Based on these factors, you will be able to create achievable training objectives for your employees.

How to Develop an Effective Employee Training Program in 2022

5. Find accountability buddies

Accomplishing goals is easier when you have accountability buddies. Managers can assign accountability buddies for employees to keep them motivated to achieve their goals. Accountability buddies can be someone working closely on a key project with them, a mentor in the company who has experience related to the goals, or the managers themselves.

6. Objectives and key results (OKRs)

For setting goals, the best-known goal management and execution framework followed by industry leaders is OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). The OKR framework ensures that the entire organization is aligned and executes with agility to achieve strategic and tactical goals. It enables managers to collaboratively define goals, cascade them to their teams, review progress, have conversations with the team, and finally reflect and reset goals by the end of the quarter.

Invest in a Digital Adoption Platform to Achieve & Measure Your Training Goals

A digital adoption platform such as Whatfix empowers organizations to create scalable employee training flows built directly into the enterprise applications – allowing employees to learn in the flow of work. It provides a data analytics dashboard to determine how employees interact with the training, average course completion rates, employee performance, and goal completion status.

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