Performance goal setting is an important activity that is closely related to quality improvement. The process of setting goals can serve as a road map to your success. Goals set for departments, teams, or individuals should be linked to the organization’s mission, purpose, and strategic plans.
One process for helping you set clear, achievable goals is S.M.A.R.T., which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, results-orientated and time bound. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can help keep you motivated and provide a way to measure your progress during your journey.
To be meaningful, goals must be SMART.
Goals can be broken down into sub-goals or objectives. Attainment of individual objectives will lead to accomplishment of the overall goal. Specific goals state exactly what the organization intends to accomplish.
The following is an example of a non-specific goal:
Non-Specific: We will improve customer service.
This could be better written as:
Specific: We will increase our customer service scores by 5% over the next 12 months by increasing training for front-line staff and monitoring performance via customer satisfaction surveys.
Each specific goal must be evaluated to determine if it is measurable. The above example is a measurable goal since the organization can track it. The following is a non-measurable goal:
Non-Measurable: We should talk to the employees about reducing expenses.
It could be better written as:
Measurable: We will reduce expenses by 10% by January 1st.
Goals must be attainable and realistic. Employees will lose their motivation in attempting to attain goals that are set too high. On the other hand, goals set too low will not provide a challenge. The following is an example of a non-attainable goal:
Non-Attainable: We will improve our Employee Satisfaction Survey to 100% for all questions.
A related and attainable goal would be:
Attainable: We will increase our Employee Satisfaction Survey scores to 5% above the present organization average.
Goals that are result-oriented will create standards of performance for each job that impact the overall business objective. An example of a non-result oriented goal would be:
Non-Results Oriented: We will improve our leadership ability.
A results-oriented goal would be:
Results Oriented: We will conduct leadership training two hours per month until we raise our Employee Satisfaction Survey scores above the existing organization average.
In addition, goals must be time-oriented to keep employees focused and avoid procrastination. An ineffective time-oriented goal would be:
Not-Time Oriented: We will try to conduct safety training in the fall.
A better goal would be:
Time-Oriented: We will complete safety training of all employees by November 1st .
T can also stand for Tangible – A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.
When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable and thus attainable.
Remember the S.M.A.R.T. acronym when establishing goals and objectives. This formula for goal setting helps ensure that both supervisors and staff members share the same understanding and clarity on goals set.