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S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Updated on July 16, 2010

Goal-setting in the workplace can take on many specific forms. Organizations may participate in strategic planning, performance appraisals, time management, and task schedules. Incorporating the S.M.A.R.T. technique (Kemp, 2000) is important to each of these. S.M.A.R.T. goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Tangible (Donohue, 2003).


To be useful goals need to be detailed, appropriate, and intentional. It is also key that goals specifically link to the organizations mission.


Goals that can be measured as a whole and incrementally are essential to ensure resources (money, time, effort) are used efficiently. Measurable goals also allow adjustments to be made to ensure success.


Goals should be set with the current resources (money, time, staff, knowledge, technology) in mind otherwise a point of diminishing returns will be reached and frustrate all stakeholders. 


There is a temptation to set really high goals in hopes to get a competitive advantage over competitors however, if the goals are not realistic it will just result in wasted effort. 


Goals with deliverables are important because they provide visual confirmation of progress. Similarly, goals with milestones and checkpoints are a good way to motivate staff and stakeholders.


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