SMART Organizational Goals

You can find all kinds of goals in all kinds of organizations. Some goals are short-term and specific (starting next month, we will increase production by two units per employee per hour), and others are long-term and nebulous (within the next five years, we will become a learning organization). Some goals are easily understood by employees (line employees will have no more than 20 rejects per month), but others can be difficult to fathom and subject to much interpretation (all employees need to show entrepreneurial spirit). Still others can be accomplished relatively easily (reception staff will always answer the phone by the third ring), but others are virtually impossible to attain (all employees will master the five languages that our customers speak before the end of the fiscal year).

How do you know what kind of goals to set? The whole point of setting goals, after all, is to achieve them. It does you no good to go to the trouble of calling meetings, hacking through the needs of your organization, and burning up precious time, only to end up with goals that aren't acted on or completed. Unfortunately, this scenario describes what far too many managers do with their time.

The best goals are smart goals. SMART is a handy acronym for the five characteristics of well-designed goals. SMART goals make for smart organizations. In our experience, many supervisors and managers neglect to work with their employees to set goals together. And in the ones that do, goals are often unclear, ambiguous, unrealistic, unrelated to the organization's mission, vision, and strategy. They are also often immeasurable, and de-motivating. By developing SMART goals with your employees, you can avoid these traps while ensuring the progress of your organization and its employees.

Goal setting is the foundation for personal and business success; however, in the business environment and in your personal life change is often fast and constant. Your goals need the same flexibility. One word per letter is no longer enough to define the useful acronym. The acronym SMART now has a number of slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition for goal setting:

SMART Acronym Newly Defined for Goal Setting:

• S can mean: specific, stretching, systematic, synergistic, significant and shifting.

• M can mean: measurable, meaningful, memorable, motivating and even, magical.

• A can mean: agreed-upon achievable, attainable, acceptable, action-oriented.

• R can mean: realistic, relevant, reasonable, resonating, responsible, reliable, results-oriented, rewarding, rooted in facts and remarkable.

• T can mean: time-based, timely, tangible, traceable and thoughtful.

This provides a broader definition that will help you to be successful in both your business and personal life.

When you next run a project take a moment to consider whether your goals are SMART goals. (The traditional words are used in this example)


• Must be well defined and clear to anyone that has a basic knowledge of the project


• Know if the goal is obtainable, the expected completion date, and know what it looks like when it has been achieved

Agreed Upon

• Ensure agreement with all the stakeholders what the goals should be


• Is it within the availability of resources, knowledge and time

Time Based

• Is there enough time to achieve the goal, but not too much time, which can affect project performance

Goal setting in any organization, should be a given. By using the above simple, but very effective approach, goal setting can become the way your organization does business.

You MAY reprint the information contained in this article as long as no portion of the contents are modified and it used “exclusively” within your organization. You must also give credit to information by including the tag line...Roger M. Ingbretsen, Author, Speaker, Leadership Coach, Organizational and Career Developer.

Author:. Roger has a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership, from Gonzaga University, a dual undergraduate degree in Economics & Business Administration, from Park University, an AA degree in Business, as well as 1,500 certified hours of training in technical disciplines. He’s had over forty articles, numerous white papers and two books and two eBooks published.

Roger is a member of the International Coaching Federation. Additionally, he has completed many pro...

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