Employee goals are incredibly important to help your team reach new heights and to keep your overall productivity levels up. Your employees should be in the know about their own individual goals, but also the company’s as a whole. That’s why implementing SMART goals can help you develop a consistent system for measuring progress, which will give you the opportunity to work together to achieve the same overall mission.
SMART goal setting
Ever heard of SMART goals? These are statements that help you achieve your objectives in a clearly defined, actionable way. First appearing in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, SMART goals are specifically designed to bring your attention to what matters and help you allocate the right time and resources to your prioritized tasks. If you have a big project coming up, this system can help you define success and narrow in on the steps you should take to get there.
SMART goals are defined by five key criteria:
- Specific goals are clearly defined in terms of expectations and outcomes
- Measurable goals are easily tracked and evaluated
- Attainable goals are realistic given the available resources
- Relevant goals are tailored to your unique objectives and have an impact on your business
- Time-based goals are narrowly defined by a specific timeframe
As you create goals for your team, make sure they check off each of the five SMART criteria. If they’re too broad, don’t disregard them! Instead, try breaking them down into actionable steps while keeping the overall goal in mind.
Implementing employee goals
Not sure how to introduce your employees to setting SMART goals for their work? Here are some of our top tips.
Align the whole team
If you’re hoping to see our team should know exactly what SMART goals are and how they work. It might take some work on your part to set up trainings, meetings, and check-ins to keep your team on track, but you’ll probably find that it’s worth the effort. A group that’s on the same page in terms of process and expectations is more likely to perform at higher levels of productivity.
What better way to implement a major change than by leading by example? If you’re transparent about the way you set and organize your own SMART goals, your team will have an easy way to gauge their progress and see where they fit in your priorities too.
Create a shared schedule
Another great way to keep everyone in sync is to create a schedule that’s easily accessed by everyone on the team. Sending regular updates when SMART goal plans are created, as well as maintaining a collaborative schedule, means that everyone can see what’s in the works. This will also encourage continuous reviews, feedback, and adjustments on goals.
Define success metrics
What does success look like at your organization? Your team should know the specific ways you’re measuring productivity so they can work to meet those benchmarks. For example, do you track employee performance with time-based measures or do you value task completion rates more? Choosing the right metrics can take some finetuning, but without them, your team members will probably be working according to their own personal standards.
Make adjustments based on feedback
Don’t forget to ask for employees’ opinions not only as you’re implementing the SMART goal system but once it’s in place as well. Whether it’s a quick question in the hallway or a formal, anonymous satisfaction survey, every piece of feedback is valuable. A detail you might have overlooked or considered not important might actually make a significant difference in your team’s productivity.
SMART goal examples for your business
Now that your team is ready to start setting and accomplishing SMART goals, here are some examples that you can reference if you’re ever unsure of some of the elements of the SMART guidelines. These goals are specifically designed with business growth strategies in mind, so these will probably be on your plate. Make sure you share them with your employees so they’re aware of how their projects can support the direction of the whole company.
- Closing sales: Gain four new clients for the business this quarter by conducting three or more customer meetings every week.
- Improving customer service: Deliver customer support with an overall “Satisfied” or “Very Satisfied” customer satisfaction rate and reduce customer contact volume by 10% before the start of the next quarter.
- Completing employee training: Make sure that the at least 90% of the team has completed training on the new inventory management software by the end of the month.
- Raising brand awareness: Increase number of social media followers by 10% every month through targeted content, promotions, and events.
- Managing customer reviews: Strategically respond to all negative reviews received on a weekly basis.
- Hiring new employees: Reach out to at least three candidates every day and conduct at least two onsite interviews with the goal of hiring a new employee by the end of the quarter.
- Managing business finances: Create a comprehensive financial plan for your business this month and have it set in motion by the end of the year.
SMART goal examples for professional development
A successful small business leader will invest in their employees’ professional development to increase retention and performance. Here are some SMART goals your employees can use as reference as they continue to grow within the company.
- Improving public speaking skills: Present at two or more stakeholder meetings every quarter to boost confidence.
- Gaining industry knowledge: Attend at least one networking event, talk, conference, or workshop every month and share notes with the rest of the team.
- Building product understanding: Spend at least an hour a week exploring the product or service we offer to feel comfortable making pitches to customers and potential business partners.
- Completing relevant certifications: By the end of the quarter, finish all required coursework and exam preparation for the certification that enables professional growth.
- Spending time with customers: Dedicate two days a month to working with the sales team to understand customer needs and expectations and inform decision-making.
- Growing a professional network: Schedule at least one lunch with a potential partner every month and follow up the following day.
- Boosting productivity: Reduce the number of daily meetings at least 10% and spend 30 minutes at the end of each day organizing and prioritizing tasks.