Making SMART objectives unique to your team

24 October 2019 -

Potter making a clay potFollowing a framework can make objectives feel rigid – but that needn’t be the case. Here’s how to use SMART goals in a way that’s tailored and effective

Lily Howes

Setting goals for your team can be daunting, especially when you come at things from a blank canvas. It can be reassuring, then, when there’s a proven and useful methodology to follow, like SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

But it can also be easy to rely too heavily on this framework and, in the process, set goals that are too rigid or broad and not tailored to the individual you’re managing. The inevitable result when review time comes around? Unachieved goals and disappointment on both sides.

A focus on the ‘A’

This is something Danielle Camargo Rua, marketing team lead at a global consumer electronics brand, has experienced herself and has been conscious not to repeat.

“I believe in assigning objectives that are SMART for real, especially when it comes to the A, achievable. So I’ve changed my approach and now set targets bottom-up with each individual,” says Danielle.

“We work together on setting a vision for their field and role for the year ahead first: where do we want to be as a team, what do we want to improve, what types of innovation do we want to try. Based on this vision, we list a few core initiatives this person will be responsible for driving.”

Danielle emphasises the importance of doing this exercise together and ensuring that the employee is in the driving seat. While it might be tempting to meticulously prepare and come ready with pre-written goals, instead take a step back and empower your employee to drive things forward. Remember: as a manager, you’re not there to dictate but to guide and help shape goals that they feel motivated to work towards.

Being open to adapt

When it comes to documenting objectives, many organisations have their own internal systems that need inputting as a formality. But Suzanne Halfacre, NHS Organisational Development Consultant, also recommends producing a live document that can be regularly reviewed, together and individually.

You know how it goes. Your goals are set in relation to a particular project - that project then gets paused. You’re given an initiative to drive - then a restructure happens, throwing that initiative off course. Organisations, teams and workloads are, more often than not, in flux. So setting goals and expecting them to all still be relevant 12 months down the line isn’t realistic.

“Use your 121s with your team members to discuss their progress but also to adapt their goals where necessary, ensuring they’re applicable to their current work situation. Always update the live document after changes to goals are agreed upon,” says Suzanne.

Relevancy drives motivation and clarity in direction. If what you have down on paper no longer applies then you might find your team members unsure of what they’re working towards or lacking the impetus to work towards anything at all. Checking in on goals on a regular basis also shows your team members that you’re engaged in their progress and are there to support their ambitions, even if they shift and change.

We have quizzes available to take on our Career Development Centre which can help you and your colleagues understand how you prefer to work. When tailoring SMART objectives, these are useful tools that may surprise you with their findings. Why not take one today?

Image: Unsplash

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