Use Your SMARTS!

I’m going to go way out on a limb and presume that pretty much everyone reading this is somewhat familiar with SMART goals. This was defined by Peter Drucker over 50 years ago as Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic, and Time bound. Now I’m not saying I’m smarter than Drucker, but lately I have found value in updating his classic acronym.

SMARTS. Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Relevant, Time bound and Stretching. Just a few changes that can help goals resonate a little more with today’s emerging workforce.

Aligned. It’s critical for the organization and the employee that individual goals be congruent with the greater goals of the organization. It’s equally important that there be a clear and identifiable line of sight from the employee’s goal to the organization’s. That’s when goals become self motivating and less like they are being assigned by manager fiat.

Relevant. There needs to be a connection between the work the employee’s asked to complete and the work of the rest of the team, department or organization. Plus, it’s best when there is a connection between the employee’s skills and the objective. That’s when the employee feels they’re really making a contribution. As Daniel Pink makes it clear, people perform better when they feel that there’s a purpose to what they’re being asked to do.

Stretching. We need our employees to do more than just enough not to get fired. We need them to voluntarily give their discretionary effort. As mentioned previously, most employees, if we do our jobs right all employees, come to work to do a good job. Just as you do. So when setting objectives, don’t just tell them what needs to be done, describe the standards for each level of performance. Give the employee the information he or she needs to excel. Help them to make an informed decision about how hard to work and how hard to try. Don’t worry about outlining the rewards just yet. That will come, rest assured. For now, keep their eyes on the improved performance prize and help them to develop pride in doing their jobs well.

This is all getting around to rewards and recognition, another of my favorite topics, Soon to come in yet another post on one of my favorite topics, motivating superior performance.